With more bang for their buck, Palace could soon be match for the big boys

Chair­man Parish tells Ja­son Burt how US cash can help his club join Premier League high earn­ers

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - TOTAL FOOTBALL | BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE - In­ter­view

Crys­tal Palace have the “big­gest catch­mentarea po­ten­tial of any club in the coun­try”, ac­cord­ing to chair­man Steve Parish, who hopes to an­nounce a new own­er­ship struc­ture within the next two weeks.

In an in­ter­view with The Daily Tele­graph Parish said that it was now only a case of “dot­ting the i’s and cross­ing the t’s” as ne­go­ti­a­tions to sell 36 per cent of the Premier League club to Amer­i­can in­vestors fi­nally drew to a close.

Parish, who has been in the United States ahead of the league match at home against Sun­der­land tonight, said: “There are just a couple of things to sort out but I didn’t want there to be un­cer­tainty this time so we thought we’d let ev­ery­one know we were talk­ing and we were close to a deal. And also drive the agenda a lit­tle bit be­cause it’s not a buy-out. It’s an in­vest­ment. We are all stay­ing in. I will still be day-to-day run­ning the club and have the rights over ev­ery­thing.”

Josh Har­ris, the owner of the New Jer­sey Devils and Philadel­phia 76ers, and busi­ness part­ner David Bl­itzer, the co-founder of Apollo Global Man­age­ment, will each take an 18 per cent stake in Palace – the same as Parish, who will di­lute his hold­ing from 25 per cent. The other direc­tors of the CPFC 2010 con­sor­tium – Stephen Browett, Jeremy Hosk­ing and Martin Long – who bought the club out of ad­min­is­tra­tion five years ago, with Parish, will hold the re­main­ing 46 per cent of the club be­tween them.

“Me, Josh and David will be on 18 per cent and then there will be a bunch of in­vestors. It’s a gen­eral lim­ited part­ner­ship struc­ture,” Parish said. “What’s im­por­tant is that me, David and Josh are the ma­jor­ity share­hold­ers.”

Har­ris and Bl­itzer have been talk­ing to Palace for 18 months with Parish re­sist­ing at­tempts to re­lin­quish con­trol. “They are smart guys, David and Josh, and they have looked at what has hap­pened [at other clubs] and they want to do it with a part­ner,” Parish said.

“We’ve had 18 months to get to know each other, since we first started talk­ing, so that’s been great and ob­vi­ously we are on the same page now. They know a lot more about the cul­ture of the club and

Big plans: Crys­tal Palace chair­man Steve Parish wants to re­de­velop Sel­hurst Park the things that mat­ter to the fans and to me.

“I think they looked at an­other club [be­lieved to be As­ton Villa]. I think they felt the best op­por­tu­nity to make a dif­fer­ence was at Crys­tal Palace – there is a lot of po­ten­tial growth there. Whether we can do it re­mains to be seen. But the po­ten­tial is there. We are the only Premier League club [in Lon­don] south of the river. There are 2.4 mil­lion peo­ple in south Lon­don and no other Premier League club un­til you get to Southamp­ton. So, it has to be the big­gest catch­mentarea po­ten­tial of any sin­gle foot­ball club in the coun­try.”

How­ever, Parish stressed: “I don’t think any­one is get­ting car­ried away. And we are go­ing to con­tinue to be pru­dent. We are not go­ing to be chuck­ing money around. It’s not happy hour. We have the right amount of money and if we fig­ure it right then we will get the right out­come.”

Parish said that the main pri­or­ity with the fresh in­vest­ment was to re­build Sel­hurst Park – which he has pre­vi­ously stated will cost at least £80 mil­lion – with ca­pac­ity ex­panded to 40,000. “Hope­fully, it will help us get the money to­gether to build a sta­dium. For one rea­son or an­other, the club has been un­der-in­vested for 25 years. I think with the man­ager [Alan Pardew] we have got and with the team we have got and the back-room staff, I think we be­long in the di­vi­sion. But as you have seen with lots of clubs – once you start di­lut­ing the rein­vest­ment in the squad by build­ing a sta­dium and that kind of stuff it can put ev­ery­thing un­der a lot of strain. I think there was a stat for a while that ev­ery club un­til Arse­nal who had built a new sta­dium had got rel­e­gated.

“We don’t want to di­lute our am­bi­tion on the pitch. But we are los­ing ground in terms of match-day in­come. It’s true that it isn’t as rel­e­vant as it was with the TV money but, still, if you look at West Ham go­ing into the Olympic Sta­dium, we are do­ing some­thing like 700 cor­po­rate cov­ers, they are go­ing to do 3,000. Spurs, when they go into their new sta­dium, are hop­ing to do 10,000. Now 10,000 fans do­ing cor­po­rate money at £5,000 an av­er­age is £50 mil­lion a year. So, it’s not so small-money. And if we don’t keep pace then we are go­ing back­wards, rapidly.”

Palace are em­ploy­ing KSS, the same firm of ar­chi­tects which is re­de­vel­op­ing Liver­pool’s An­field, which in­volves build­ing a new main stand over the ex­ist­ing struc­ture. “I would really like to have a new main stand in three years,” Parish said. “We went up to Liver­pool re­cently, we played them, and what an ex­cit­ing project that is. It’s ex­actly what we want to do with our main stand. It’s a bril­liant idea.”

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