Development costs for Selhurst Park’s new stand soar by 50%

Bright new future: Selhurst Park’s new stand, which could open in 2027, will add up to £30m to Crystal Palace’s annual income

Building works on the main stand at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park stadium could begin next summer, but the club is facing soaring costs.

The new stand could now cost Palace at least £150million – up by 50% on the initial projections. It could be 2027 before the much-enlarged ground stages its first fixture.

The club blames inflation for the cost increase – the original price tag in any case dated from 2018 – but says it will fund the cost of building the stand through loans from Palace’s shareholders.

The rising costs include “several million pounds” paid to supermarket chain Sainsbury’s for a small parcel of land in their car park that is vital for access to the site of the 13,500 capacity stand, and the costs of finding new homes for the residents of Wooderson Close, next to the stadium.

A report published by the football website The Athletic says that the relocation of the nearby residents has made the start of demolition and construction work possible, following a somewhat tortuous process that has lasted almost seven years.

Picking up the bills: American John Textor, Palace’s majority shareholder

According to the well-sourced Athletic report, “Palace are in a tender process for a main contractor, with a view to starting work next summer.”

Croydon Council’s planning committee, which until recently was chaired by an obsessive Palace fan, has twice granted planning permission for the scheme. Jason Perry, Croydon’s part-time Mayor, is a Palace season ticket-holder who has enjoyed nearly £1,000-worth of hospitality and freebie tickets at Selhurst Park over the past 18 months.

The club’s own dithering in actioning the original permission, granted in 2018, necessitated a renewed application which was granted by the council 12 months ago. Managing their planning application alone is estimated to have cost the club £1million.

Such a major scheme would usually require approval from the Mayor of London, but in August Sadiq Khan’s office opted to defer decision-making on this scheme to the less-than-objective local council. There is a chance that the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, could still call-in the development, but that possibility seems “vanishingly small”, according to The Athletic.

Given the largesse spent by the club on lobbyists and taking Croydon’s Tory Mayor Perry out on the piss, that assessment should not surprise anyone.

Matt Woosnam, The Athletic’s Palace specialist, writes, “The redevelopment of the stadium is seen as being crucial to Palace’s ability to compete in the Premier League, with chairman Steve Parish saying it would provide an extra £20million to £30million each season.”

A Palace spokesperson told the website: “The Selhurst Park redevelopment project is progressing well — we have in place all the peripheral deals that are required for us to start construction and the club is now in a tender process with prospective construction partners.

“The start date will be subject to further discussions with the various consultants working on the project and our chosen construction partner.”

Spread Eagles: planning documents show how the stadium is to expand from its current size (left) with the new main stand (right)

According to The Athletic report, with the residents of Wooderson Close’s six houses — five of them council homes – now relocated, “almost all of the regulatory restrictions on starting the development have been removed”.

The report suggests that Palace have yet to sign the Section 106 planning agreement with Croydon Council, which includes up to £1million of improvements to the local area.

It was an unsigned S106 agreement from the 2018 planning permission that caused the football club to have to re-apply.

According to a council spokesperson, “The Section 106 agreement has been substantially agreed and, once a few technical matters are resolved, an agreement is expected soon.” The council failed to specify what those “few technical matters” might be…

Once it finally begins, the development work is expected to take two and a half years.

The club shareholders picking up the tab for all this include club chairman Steve Parish and Americans Josh Harris, David Blitzer, Robert Franco and John Textor.

In August 2021, Textor, whose other sports business interests include Olympique Lyonnais and RWD Molenbeek, paid £86million for 40% of Crystal Palace FC, making him the majority owner.

Read more: Residents blocked from meeting by football club’s lobbyists
Read more: ‘Abrasive’ lobbyist smoothing the way for Selhurst’s new stand

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