Palace unveil impressive plans for move out of Croydon

New Palace: an artist's impression of the shape of the future for the National Sports Centre

Crystal Palace FC seems set to move out of Croydon, after unveiling today the club’s impressive-looking  £90million plans to revitalise facilities around a new 40,000-seater football stadium at the National Sports Centre.

Croydon Council chief executive Jon Rouse today welcomed the football club’s plans, saying he would “actively support” their move.

“While we would be sad to see the club leave the borough, we will actively support a move to the National Sports Centre site if that is what is judged by owners and fans to be in the best interests of the club,” Rouse said.

Neither the council nor the club mentions what might be in store for Selhurst Park, the club’s Croydon home since 1924.

Included in CPFC’s announcement of its intention to return to its original home by 2015 is a scheme which will also provide a new indoor aquatic centre, a reconfigured indoor sports complex within the existing structure, and a new community athletics facility.

The scheme was launched at a press conference headed by co-chairman Steve Parish and published on the club’s official website, where coverage was so detailed, it needed two separate articles.

The Crystal Palace sports centre is a vital regional sports facility, but is nearing its 50th anniversary and in great need of serious investment. With public spending cutbacks and the focus on Olympic facilities, there is a genuine fear that the Palace might be allowed slowly to decay.

The football club scheme offers the sports centre fresh hope for a long future.

According to the club, the plans for new facilities “will breathe new life into the National Sports Centre and the park by removing the requirement for the pool inside the current listed structure, greatly reduce the running costs and allow for the current space to be re-utilised for an even wider range of community and elite athletic sports.”

CPFC will need planning permission for the full 40,000-seat capacity stadium, which may begin with 25,000 seats subject to other requirements. The latter project will cost up to £50 million; the full scheme would cost an additional £40 million.

“We are delighted to put forward our plans to return the club home to where it all began,” Parish said. “We believe a stadium at Crystal Palace park can help create a bright new future for the club as well as helping it to breathe new life into both the sports centre and the park.”

Consultation for the potential project began last July with Croydon Council as well as Bromley, the London Development Agency and UK Athletics.

The football club says that the development of the Olympic Stadium at Stratford “has removed the requirement of Crystal Palace to major athletics events, making a football-only stadium a viable option”.

Crystal Palace’s stadium announcement comes a day before the deadline for bids to takeover the site of London’s £450 million new Olympic Stadium, with Tottenham Hotspur’s bid expected to include provision to make the Stratford venue football only, while providing funding to renovate the Palace as Britain’s national athletics stadium.

CPFC said of its plans: “We are inviting consultation because we want to make a new home for Crystal Palace a reality.”

Stephen Carr, the leader of Bromley council, described the plans as “fresh, visionary ideas”. He said, “We want to improve the park and wider area and any viable plan to improve the park could have a positive impact on the locality and secure a brighter future.”

  • Ahead of the stadium announcement, Crystal Palace also announced the appointment of the experienced and respected Lennie Lawrence as Dougie Freedman’s assistant manager.

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