I’ve covered Crystal Palace a lot recently, they seem to be involved in every big Championship news story lately, and it’s surprising that a club that was minutes away from liquidation wasn’t covered in greater detail by Sky Sports who usually go weak at the knees for this sort of stuff. But the World Cup is a bit of a distraction I suppose, and in case you hadn’t heard, Crystal Palace were saved from becoming extinct. I was quite surprised by this, considering the morning of the 3pm deadline, stories were running that doubted a chance for a deal to be made, but eventually, after fan protests and much talk, the club was saved after both sides agreed on an issue regarding the sale of Selhurst Park. Palace’s collapse may have seen the much feared domino effect in English football, as many have analysed in the past that once one club falls from grace, many more will follow, and it will most likely hit the football league hardest.
The football league next season will be filled with a number of clubs attempting to balance the books; Notts County, Portsmouth, Hull and Accrington are just some of the teams desperately trying to sort out their finances and will most certainly be seeing more players heading towards the exit door as opposed to the entrance. You put this on top of a number of top flight clubs having risky debt, Man Utd and Liverpool as a prime example, and English football is being hit hard after years of growth – a situation very similar to what happened in Italy not too long ago. And will more clubs go into debt? Patrick Barclay of The Times, who was recently interviewed by EPL Talk, certainly thinks so, and the only thing that saved Palace on this occasion with a loyal fan base, many of whom were wealthy supporters of the club that were ready to step up in order to save the club they love.
Palace have cleared their debt, but they are still losing a lot of money and I would predict that some high earners may be leaving. Darren Ambrose may be on his way to link up with former Palace boss Neil Warnock at QPR and Julian Speroni, who has been fans player of the season on numerous occasions, may also be ready for the exit door. In truth, the Palace team will look very different next season, and there is still a chance that they will be unable to bring in true quality as they attempt to spend within their means. Could Palace get relegated? I think they may be in for another scrap, as you look at a club like Sheffield Wednesday, whose spending philosophy will hopefully be implemented by the new Palace owners, and they got relegated. When the new owners are a group of some of the richest supporters, they are unlikely to want to put the team they love into massive amounts of debt, as they aren’t rich oil tycoons from a far away land. If you clicked the above link under ‘loyal fan base’ you’ll see that Palace fans now have high hopes for their club to put everything behind them and challenge once again. I believe that is looking too far forward – if anything Palace need slow progression and look to bring in a few loan signings at first.
But then there are the smaller clubs that are also learning a valuable lesson in business, and for them, their future may not look so bleak. Chester recently went out of business, but if a Championship team was to cease to exist, it would send shockwaves through English football. How many more times must we see clubs go into administration? UEFA have got the right idea, forcing teams to only spend as much as they can make, but it is a pipe dream to see the English F.A implement this for all clubs. We’ve seen a number of clubs go into administration and then be taken over in recent seasons that it almost feels like a natural process, but Crystal Palace should be thanking the God’s for their close shave as it really was too close for comfort. At some point the sword is going to fall on clubs, and although it doesn’t need to be that way, there is nothing the single fan can do.