Their club might be in a fight for its Premier League survival, but devoted Crystal Palace fans have bigger concerns, issuing an impassioned statement this week against the commercialisation of Selhurst Park which “has ripped the soul from the club”.
The statement, from the Holmesdale Fanatics, rejects aspects of an Americanisation of the club’s match presentation.
“Our culture is being sold out in the process,” they state.
In December 2015, American investors Josh Harris and David Blitzer bought an 18per cent share of the club with a £50million investment. Harris is also the principal owner of the New Jersey Devils ice hockey franchise and NBA team the Philadelphia 76ers, where Blitzer also holds an interest.
At Selhurst Park, the Fanatics have been an essential part of creating a typically old-school football atmosphere, regarded as one of the best among all Premier League clubs, and one which has helped to provide the home side with a genuine advantage in tight games. But they see their years of dedication being undermined by the club “being blinded by the bright lights of the Premier League”.
The Fanatics identify, “NFL-esque light shows, Selhurst referred to as a ‘Stadium Bowl’, T-shirts thrown to away fans, their anthems played in the concourse to create a ‘welcoming environment’.
“This is everything our club should stand against and all contributes to alienating our fanbase and turns supporters into passive customers,” they state.
“Losing Jedinak and sidelining others who inspired the support has destroyed the unity that once powered us and has ripped the soul from the club,” they said, railing against “a bland generic Premier League identity”.
In a separate move, supporters have launched a petition to reinstate their stadium announcer after his replacements fell “way short of the standards” and their overall matchday experience “worsened significantly” in his absence.
Mike Rankine was replaced as announcer, a role he had undertaken for eight years. The petition calls for his immediate reinstatement.
“Shortly before the start of the 2016/17 Premier League season lifelong Crystal Palace fan Mike Rankine was removed from his position as the club’s official matchday announcer,” reads the petition. “His subsequent replacements have – with all due respect – fallen way short of the standards Mike set during his time in the role, with many supporters commenting that the overall matchday experience has worsened significantly over the past five months in his absence.”
Rankine had said on Twitter that the club were “looking at a number of new things for the matchday experience this season and a new voice on the PA is one of them”.
Having replaced manager Alan Pardew with Sam Allardyce, Palace are 17th in the Premier League, one place above the relegations zone, after the 2-1 defeat at home to fellow strugglers Swansea.
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