Friday, April 19, 2013

Who would want to own a Palace?

With Crystal Palace Football Club’s on field performances stuttering badly of late it seems everyone associated with the South London Club is in the firing line. There is a definite divide amongst the fans of the the club as to who and/or where the significant blame lies – is it with with the players, the management, the owners.......or perhaps, although far less likely with the Kayla the Eagle, The Crystal Cheerleaders or the guy in the Palace scarf who walks his dog around Ashburton Park at 7am every weekday morning - everybody is ostensibly a potential scapegoat!

As a write on the back of another ‘pointless’ trip to Ipswich on Tuesday night and previous docile displays against the likes of Brighton, Birmingham, Blackpool and Barnsley it was interesting to study the Club's financial accounts that were published this week.

For the period July 2011 to June 2012, the accounts show a net loss of £2.2m, but that figure is down by more than £7m on 2010/2011 and that the Eagles' turnover has risen by £2.3m, and this does not include monies from the sale of Wilfried Zaha to Manchester United. Wages for players, managers, coaches, administration and commercial staff are up by nearly £3m, but directors Steve Parish, Steve Browett and Martin Long (pictured above) took no salary.

Although it is fair to say that the financial accounts of a football club are far more complicated than they appear above, it is a credit to the business acumen of the consortium ‘CPFC2010’ who purchased Crystal Palace FC three years ago, when the club was on its knees. They are carefully managing the club's finances and are indeed reducing the debt, so as not to put the club in any kind of financial risk, unlike some of the other Championship clubs.

To put it into perspective, in the last financial year Palace spent 78 per cent of their turnover on wages, Middlesbrough 119 per cent, Nottingham Forest 119 per cent, Leicester City 130 per cent and at the other end of the table, relegated Bristol City were quite literally flushing money away, as they spent an incredible 157 per cent of their turnover on wages.

I want to get away from discussing our current ownership situation and for the purposes of this article focus on some histrionics that came about not once, but twice in the last ten years regarding ‘rumoured takeovers’ that actually made the front pages of some newspapers.

Daily Star - 23/3/2011 - 7 months before his death!
Back in the summer of 2004 Colonel Gaddafi, known as 'The Mad Dog of Tripoli' was reportedly contemplating purchasing Crystal Palace, who had just been promoted to the Premier League. Gaddafi was increasingly keen to join a growing cosmopolitan group of club proprietors in the Premiership at the time, including Mohamed Al Fayed at Fulham and Russian oil baron, Roman Abramovich at Chelsea.

The offer at the time was expected to come through the state-owned Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company, (Lafico) the body that was used by Gaddafi to buy a 5.31 per cent share in Juventus, the  Turin-based football club.

The then chairman of Palace Simon Jordan was was making no secret of the fact that he wanted to sell the club saying – "I don't enjoy football anymore" and declared to reporters "I have been told that Gaddafi and his son are interested in acquiring Palace. If Gaddafi's money was able to progress Palace and allow them to be a successful football club then one would have to take that under consideration”

It is interesting to note that a year earlier one of Gadaffi’s seven sons was signed as a player by the Italian club Perugia. The 30-year-old managed only 15 minutes of first-team action however, before he was suspended for failing a drugs test. Also when his son was playing for the Libyan national side, his team-mates had to allow him to take all the free-kicks and corners he wanted, under the orders of the manager!

Obviously nothing came of Gadaffi’s apparent interest, and only a few days after the story broke Mr Gaddafi denied knowing anything about the rumours linking him to the purchase of Crystal Palace. However it is a pretty frightening thought when you sit back and try and envisage with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi at the helm, how he along with his family and his Libyan 'representatives' might have gone about running the South London Club, had a deal gone ahead!

Gadaffi may have been the most controversial suitor to show an interest in acquiring ‘The Eagles’ but he is not the only high profile public figure to do so in the last ten years.

Back in March 2010 with the the bankrupt club in chaos, Rap mogul P Diddy (right) was planning to splash some of his reported £360million on the Selhurst Park side. As mad as it seemed, the multi-millionaire American wanted to invest in an English football club, and it was Palace that caught his bling-obsessed eye.
Why Palace you may well ask? Well according to insiders he 'liked the name,' which could be considered an innovative if not bizarre reason to throw your money at a football club in administration.

Brendan Guilfoyle, administrator of the bankrupt Championship side, said at the time he "would willingly fly to New York to meet him to discuss a purchase".

Mr Guilfoyle, of The P&A Partnership financial firm, said he was "a big hip-hop fan" and would be "delighted if P Diddy wanted to buy Crystal Palace."

Diddy it is reported actually sat down and had a meeting in London to discuss a possible swoop for the then beleaguered London club. With the finance in place, it was just left for him to decide whether or not to go ahead with the deal!

A few months later P Diddy, real name Sean Combs confirmed that somebody "had looked at it" for him, but "it just wasn't the right business move for me at the time."

Perhaps P Diddy thought he was buying an actual Palace made out of Crystal, and with P Diddy in charge the Palace fans’ might have been 'treated' to a rap version of 'Glad All Over,' the song adopted by the fans of the club as their anthem in the 1960's.

When you think of what might have been as a Palace fan, are you not relieved that the club is now owned by ‘CPFC2010’ and in a safe pair of hands, or would you rather the Club had been bought by a ‘terrorist’ or a ‘rapper?'

As former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan entitled his recent book, ‘Be Careful What you Wish For’ – never has a phrase been more apt in the rollercoaster that is Crystal Palace Football Club, both on and off the field!

No comments: