Crystal Palace setting a financial example? Surely not…

by Mystical Mike

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

It’s a sorry state of affairs, for any club, when all that the fans have to celebrate is another year’s survival. And it’s even worse when the come-down hits you and you wake-up to find your club in the red and the future looking very, very grim. Some would say it’s a time to pass the Scotch and pass the Gin. Others would say it’s time to pass something stronger.

This was the pre-season situation for Crystal Palace, whose fans were weeping into pints and protesting at Lloyds Bank HQ. The South London area was put on red alert, as rumours filtered through of looting and pillaging and murder. These rumours were never confirmed but, such was the fragile state of the club and the desperate mentality of their fans, few were willing to ignore them. Hundreds of thousands reportedly locked themselves in their homes, bolting the doors, blocking the windows and stocking up on everything from crates of Evian to tins of Spam. Or so we’ve been told.

Fast-forward to the new campaign and things are looking decidedly different. The club have a new manager in George Burley, a new mentality and have managed to retain the services of star-player Darren Ambrose; something few in the Championship thought was possible. Furthermore, the club now have a reason to dust off and crack open the Bucks Fizz, with the announcement that they are now officially out of administration.

Palace are also free to bring in fresh faces, after their transfer embargo was lifted. For a club so uncertain of their future, this is welcome news. If reports are to be believed, the club are looking to bolster their squad with a large number of new players and put a smile on the faces of their supporters. But is this wise, given the fact that the club has only just pulled itself free from an economic quagmire?

The answer would normally be ‘no’. However, Palace look to be dealing sensibly with their new found situation. 19 year-old midfielder Stuart O’Keefe, a product of Southend’s much-lauded youth academy, has been snapped up on a free transfer; experienced Ipswich striker, Pablo Counago, looks to be coming in on a season long loan; and Neil Danns will follow in Ambrose’s footsteps by putting pen to paper on a brand new deal.

Perhaps the biggest scoop is the signing of 37-year-old Dutch midfielder Edgar Davids, a key-player in the 1995 Champions League winning Ajax team and a man capped 74 times for his country. After two years out of football, some will doubt the impact Davids will have, regardless of his status. However, with the Dutchman on a money-saving pay-as-you-play contract, among a team of bright, young players, his signing should prove valuable.

Time will tell if the tides will change for Palace this season, but we should all embrace the fact that big things are still possible for clubs with little money. George Burley has been shrewd, securing the future of those who worked hard to keep the club in the Championship last season (despite a ten-point deduction) whilst bringing in fresh faces; all without digging deep into the club’s limited resources.

Palace look to have learned the hard way on keeping the coffers tight. Those facing financial insecurity should take note. Dave Dryden

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