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
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.”