Crystal Palace’s loudest fans, the Holmesdale Fanatics, look like they may get their wish to create “a wall of noise” at Selhurst Park from next season, after the club issued a statement which could avoid a boycott of home games by some supporters.
The Holmesdale Fanatics are felt by many to make the noise and atmosphere which has characterised Selhurst Park in the past couple of seasons, their enthusiasm, energy and colourful banners setting the ground apart from the more restrained, too-corporate nature of so many Premier League clubs.
It is reckoned that around 100 Palace fans make up the Fanatics. They are usually positioned behind the goal in the Holmesdale Stand, near the corner flag.
But discussions over the summer with the club’s co-owner, Steve Parish, about moving them, en bloc, to a position behind the goal left the Fanatics angry and feeling let down.
At the start of this month, the group carried out their threat to put down their atmosphere-creating drums and simply turn their back on home matches.
The club’s dilemma was that, to accommodate the Fanatics’ plan, they would need to provide an acceptable alternative to other season ticket-holders who have occupied the behind-the-goal seats.
This week, the club indicated that some sort of accommodation might be reached.
The statement from the club said: “Much has been said and written in recent weeks about the prospect of an enhanced and expanded ‘singing section’ in the Lower Holmesdale Stand, to further build upon the reputation that our fans inside Selhurst Park have created as one of, if not, the best atmospheres in the Premier League.
“Recognising this will cause some initial disruption but weighing up all the views and opinions there appears to be overwhelming support from the supporter base for this to become a reality.
“We are therefore committed to facilitating a larger and dedicated ‘singing section’ next season, where our most vocal fans will thrive and act as a catalyst to make the Holmesdale Stand into an even greater wall of noise and supportive force behind the team. It’s unavoidable that this will result in some of our most valued, longstanding season ticket holders being displaced, we have worked hard to keep this to a relatively small amount and we will of course work hard to make the best alternatives available to them.”
The club requested that existing season ticket-holders should not contact the box office, but to wait as Palace “will be contacting all supporters within the next few weeks who will be directly affected and discussing this with them individually”.
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What’s IC’s view on this?
We always try to reflect the views of those affected.
This appears to be a case of the club falling into the trap of behaving like a Town Hall politician, and offering too much and delivering too little.
They must offer existing season ticket-holders affected by this innovation something to compensate them for any disruption. If they do that successfully, then one of the strengths of Selhurst Park could be enhanced.
If I was a season ticket-holder that they wanted to move, I’d happily opt for a Holmesdale upper tier seat – but for a lower tier price – because you get a better view from there!