BY ANDREW BLATHERWICK
Crystal Palace. The name alone conjures up an impression of ambition, affluence, status and success. Add the suffix ‘Football Club’ and it becomes a different tale. But should it be?
It is a little known fact that in terms of accessible population Crystal Palace FC has the largest catchment area of any professional football club in England. Over 1 million people are within a reasonable commute to Selhurst Park. If only 5% attended home matches regularly then that alone would mean 50,000 supporters through the gates. The ground doesn’t accommodate that many any their record attendance is just over 51,000. So why are Palace a comparatively small club?
Well let’s look at the clubs history. Despite being over 100 years old they still have NO major honours to their name. FA cup losing finalists in 1990 losing 1 – 0 to Manchester United after the first tie ended in a 3 – 3 draw. Third place in the top flight is their highest ever finish. Not a poor record but certainly it could be better.
Another factor to consider is staff turnover. Palace have had such high profile names as Ian Wright, Nigel Martyn and Mark Bright as players whilst Malcolm Allison, Alan Mullery and former Barcelona, Spurs and England supremo Terry Venables have all plied their trade as manager at the Palace. Whilst it is fair to say that all football clubs seemingly have a ‘revolving door’ policy Palace are particularly active in changes of personnel. Quality players are sold on to ‘bigger’ clubs. History decrees, however, that continuity is a better path to success, but such are the demands in football all chairmen want instant results. Which leads us nicely into the next paragraph.
Crystal Palace FC appear to have a higher than average turnover of Chairmen. Indeed, Ron Noades is still (I stand to be corrected on this point) the club’s longest serving chairman with eight years at the helm. A succession of chairmen throughout Palace’s history have sold such players previously mentioned for quite significant fees. It would appear that the chairmen have not re-invested the money as well as they could have. Certainly players of a similar calibre have not been brought in to replace the outgoing stars. On that basis the club will never progress to the next level. To be a major force you have to have the vision and belief in your convictions. Palace seem to be quite happy playing second fiddle to their more illustrious neighbours.
‘Glad all over’ is the fans anthem. A bit of success would give them that feeling. The burning question is this. Do the Palace owners want it badly enough? The potential has always been there. Over to you Mr Parish.
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