Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

The chronic case of Crystal Palace

Posted by John Beech on January 27, 2010

Chronic, that is, in the medical sense – meaning an illness over a long period of time.

The fact that they were forced into Administration yesterday (1) is certainly an outcome of recent pressures, but the club had been under financial pressure for, well, since the nineties and the Ron Noades era.  Next ‘benefactor’ was Mark Goldberg, who borrowed money from Noades to make the purchase in 1998, but Noades retained ownership of the stadium.  Noades moved on to Brentford, where the club debt steadily rose.

By March 1999, the club was in Administration.  Goldberg, who made some naive decisions and had been unable to deliver the funding he said he had available, departed and the following summer Jerry Lim bought the club, before almost immediately selling the club to current owner Simon Jordan.  The fresh capital was matched by a decline in performance on the pitch however.

In October 2006 Jordan managed to wrest the stadium from Ron Noades through a secret purchase, although it rapidly emerged that the new owner was not in fact Jordan, but a company with a maze of ownership issues.

Jordan has always been his own man, never one to fail to take issue with whoever he saw as being in the wrong, whether the establishment or the media.  Dwindling crowds, on the decline since a peak in 2004/05 have increasingly caused cashflow problems.  Recently the club has had to cope with a transfer embargo, and players wages have been paid late.

With the club due in court today to face, who else, HMRC, Agilo, an investment company thought to have invested £5m in the club (2), moved to have the club faced in Administration before the HMRC winding-up petition could be heard.

Things don’t look too good – no stadium, large debts, a buyer’s market, a reluctance to invest in the football sector, or anywhere for that matter, none of this is going to make life easy for the surprisingly optimistic  Administrators.  The club is a ‘brand’ but not a major one.  It’s a time for the Supporters Trust (3) to try and rise to the occasion – the last thing the club needs is another ‘benefactor’.


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