The elation felt by Crystal Palace fans earlier this week when the club’s demise appeared to be averted may be short-lived, according to the well-informed Matt Scott, The Guardian national newspaper’s Digger columnist.
As Scott sees it, Tuesday’s deal is more of a reprieve rather than definite salvation for Palace (our chums at the Advertiser quaintly described Palace as facing “extinction”, as if they were writing about dodos, and not Eagles).
Today, Scott reports that Palace, even under the new CPFC2010 consortium, still have no money, a situation which may yet last two months, while the club is still operating with costs of around £1 million per month.
That could all mean that further player sales are inevitable, while the purchase of new players much before the start of the new Championship season in August would be rendered nigh on impossible.
The club’s administrator, Brendan Guilfoyle, has run out of funds to pay staff and player wages. He had intended to sell players to cover the club’s running costs, but Scott reports that CPFC2010 has insisted on a halt to any immediate transfer business.
The lack of cash probably also means that any appointment of a new manager will also have to be deferred. Or that the club’s straitened circumstances might deter one or two better candidates.
The Advertiser is tipping the out-of-work former Palace and Wales defender Chris Coleman, a move which would not be welcomed by Palace fans judging by the comments in the chatrooms on Holmesdale.net.
The fans point to Coleman’s less than successful spell in charge of Coventry, and they highlight the consortium’s previously expressed wish to hire another ex-Palace international centre back, Gareth Southgate.
Other supporters say they want Palace hero Dougie Freedman to be given his first chance in management at Selhurst Park.
Whoever gets the job, their task is likely to be a very tough one, at least initially.
The Guardian (the proper one, not the Croydon Guardian) reports that although the Palace players fought hard to ensure the club avoided relegation to League One last month, none of them have yet been paid their wages for May.
So parlous have the club’s finances become that last week the administrator was still making drastic cuts to reduce running costs. Last Friday, 29 staff members were made redundant, while Australian international midfielder Nick Carle was released from his contract, which had two years to run; the administrator did not even think it worthwhile trying to negotiate a sale to another club while the player’s wages continued to accrue.
Darren Ambrose was the next player lined up for sale, before the consortium asked for a block on transfers.
Scott reports: “There are strong hopes that a funding agreement will be struck between CPFC2010 and the administrator, Brendan Guilfoyle, over the next 24 hours, that would allow the club to get through the next two months before the takeover can be completed. But no money has been received yet, and it is a stark truth that without it the club are closer to liquidation than salvation.”
Significant here is that what was agreed on Tuesday was in principle, rather than a cash-on-the-nail deal (the same as the difference, when buying a house, between the offer being accepted and contracts exchanged).
Reading the excellent Holmesdale.net fans’ site and chat rooms, the overwhelming emotion among Palace supporters this week does seem to be relief, rather than elation. They have, after all, been here before, and rather too recently.
The significant difference this time may be that the club and ground are, again, under the same ownership, which ought to offer the consortium many advantages in terms of running the club that were never available to previous owner Simon Jordan.
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