On Saturday 19 April 1969 Crystal Palace defeated Fulham in front of a capacity crowd to gain promotion to the top flight of English football for the first time. On Saturday 12 May 1990 Crystal Palace drew 3-3 against Manchester United in the FA Cup Final in front of 80,000 at Wembley. On Saturday 29 May 2004 Crystal Palace won the division 1 play-off final against West Ham at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
However, arguably the most important day in the 105 year history of Crystal Palace Football Club came this week at the end of a season where Palace narrowly avoided relegation from the Coca Cola Championship after administration in January triggered a 10 points deduction. On Tuesday 1 June 2010 in front of just a few hundred loyal supporters gathered outside the London headquarters of Lloyds Banking Group Crystal Palace won salvation from the threat of liquidation.
A deadline of 3pm on Tuesday had been set by the administrators for a deal to be done with the owners of the stadium, Bank of Scotland. As the 3pm deadline came and passed with little news forthcoming Palace fans must have feared the worst.
Shortly after 4pm a statement was issued by Barry Gilbertson, the administrator for the company that owns the stadium: “After an in-depth negotiation process we have agreed in principle the sale of the stadium to CPFC2010”. A deadline day deal had been agreed to sell the stadium to CPFC2010 for £4m.
CPFC2010, the consortium fronted by Chief Executive of the TAG Worldwide advertising design company and lifelong Palace fan Steve Parish had agreed a deal in principle to purchase the club and its stadium. A deal to tie up Selhurst Park, a ground which Palace have been merely tenants for over a decade, was always integral to Parish’s takeover plans. A term of the contract stating that the bank would benefit should the stadium be sold in the future had proved to be little more than a stumbling block to negotiations after an agreement to fix the future benefit to Bank of Scotland was reached.
The deal currently remains a deal in principle. Until it is completed administrator Brendan Guilfoyle remains at the helm and in the interim there are wages to pay and costs to cover. 29 redundancies were announced last week. The expected sale of last season’s 20-goal top scorer Darren Ambrose to QPR for a fee of £750,000 will provide some respite.
As reported in the Guardian CPFC2010 have previously implied that they would end their interest if the club entered into a player fire-sale. It remains to be seen whether other players will head to the exit door and what effect this may have on Parish’s thinking.
According to the Guardian newspaper: “one source close to the situation said CPFC2010′s offer for the club constitutes only a 1p-in-the-pound return for creditors and whether they will find that acceptable and vote in favour of a company voluntary arrangement – which is crucial to the club’s survival – is still in question.”