THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

17 March ~ The future of Crystal Palace appears to be anything but straightforward at the moment and, for the first time this season, the club's fans are coming to terms with the fact that their place in the Championship is under genuine threat. With Palace currently in the hands of administrator Brendan Guilfoyle, the loss of Neil Warnock to QPR couldn't have come at a worse time. The task of securing a new owner for the club was put to one side as frantic phone calls were made in an attempt to find a coach who was willing to steady what is already an extremely unstable ship.

The announcement of Paul Hart in his third managerial role this season alone, didn't fill me with a great sense of hope. Many fans believed that club hero Steve Coppell was set to return in what would have been his fifth spell as manager. Instead they were left with a trio that included another two legends of yesteryear, with Dougie Freedman and John Pemberton arriving as assistants. Since their arrival at Selhurst Park the results have been far from groundbreaking. A hard-fought home victory against Sheffield Utd in their first game in charge has been followed by one draw and two losses, the latest of which came at the hands of play-off chasing Leicester City last night.

We find ourselves languishing in 21st place and outside of the bottom three on goal difference, while the remaining fixtures make for extremely unpleasant reading. Four of our next five games are away from home, three of which are against sides in the top half of the table in Blackpool, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough. As if that wasn't enough for Palace fans to agonise over, we also face the prospect of a journey to Hillsborough on the last day of the season in what is looking more and more like a proverbial relegation six-pointer as each set of results pass by.

The search for a new owner remains ongoing with the administrator recently commenting that: "We have a number of individuals who have put forward an interest at this stage but no firm proof of funding has come forward." This statement is one which comes as no surprise to supporters who have been saddled with feelings of uncertainty over the club's future for over a year, when rumours of Simon Jordan's cash flow problems first surfaced in 2008.

With only ten games left for the club to save ourselves from the drop there will need to be a drastic turnaround in the teams fortunes on the pitch in the coming weeks. With Dougie Freedman, the architect of the club's last great escape in 2001, now on the staff, I am left desperately hoping that he can inspire the current group of players to follow his example and steer us to safety once again. Dan Cook

Comments (7)
Comment by Lincoln 2010-03-17 16:13:36

Last night's game was not particulalry inspiring, knocking it down the wings to cross into a big man. Then with the sending off the big man had to come off and there seemed to be nothing going forward. Still, Palace kept a decent Leicester team in check for the most part of the game, with a strong midfield and decent defence, and surely can take confidence from that. Hopefully the supporters trust initative on the 5th of April will go some way to help the financial situation.

Comment by green_rhino 2010-03-17 16:38:49

Nothing against Palace but I hope their slide continues. If clubs live beyond their means they are cheating those which don't. For all the blinkered outpourings for Pompey, for Palace etc, they have tried to buy success with other people's money. Tough tits if it doesn't work out.
From an Argyle fan with a little hope remaining...

Comment by kbmac 2010-03-18 10:02:01

I understand where green_rhino is coming from. The team I support in Scotland, Partick Thistle, were relegated from the SPL a few years ago having defied the odds to stay up the previous season. What was galling was that most of the decent players from that team were lured away by other clubs in the SPL by the promise of high wages. Half way through our relegation season one of those robber clubs went into administration (no 10 point deduction in those days) and two of the others had to slash the players wages in a bid to avoid administration. We were effectively punished for refusing to pretend that we had the money to pay the silly money (by lower SPL standards)that these clubs offered but could not afford. If Palace and Pompey have done the same I don't have that much sympathy. I feel for the fans to an extent as they don't really make the choice to be stupid but they enjoy the ride - particularly at Portsmouth - so they have to pay the fare.

Comment by Lincoln 2010-03-18 11:43:02

As the old saying goes though, it is the fans that suffer. Those 12k in the ground on Tuesday have no control over what the blonde haired play boy does. To hope that they have further misery poured on them smacks of the rather shameful petty tirbal following of a club that is prevelant in modern football. Not satisfied with watching your team, you have to hope that others suffer in order to enjoy your football.
There are already punishments set for trying to steal an advantage which both clubs you mention have had.

Comment by green_rhino 2010-03-18 13:08:59

I agree Lincoln - it is the fans that suffer, and I don't wish that on them. But why should fans of Argyle (or Partick Thistle) suffer because our Boards have not spent way beyond their means, while other clubs have - as kbmac has indicated - cheated to try and get their day in the sun?
Are the fans at Home Park on Tuesday evening worth less than those at Selhurst? No, so your comment about selfishness doesn't stack.
Where fans need to show solidarity is in confronting the ridiculous nature of football finances now: the largest income stream ever but the highest probablility of clubs going under - that's crap isn't it?

Comment by Lincoln 2010-03-18 13:31:19

No the fans at Home Park aren't worth less than Palace fans but I would no more want Argyle to slide into oblivion that I would Palace. You are correct that the current regime of going beyond the clubs means has to stop but something must be done that hurts the owners and not the fans. I think we are roughly in agreement on the issue and as a Lincoln fan I am on shakey ground as we managed to get all our "cheating" done before the 10 penalty points. Interestingly I remember us playing Argyle not too long ago. Since we cheated we have stayed in the same league, since you had an efficiently managed team you have risen to one below the Premiership.

Comment by green_rhino 2010-03-18 13:59:34

Don't get me wrong - I don't want any club (well...) to slide into oblivion - I just want three clubs below us come May 5th!
Anyway, as you say, we are pretty much of one here - so how can fans of Lincoln City, Plymouth Argyle, Partick Thistle etc work together to overcome this ridiculous position which threatens all of our clubs...?
Lobby our incoming MPs to impose a wage ceiling? Wait for Man Ure to go tits up and then something will need to be done? Or just enjoy the ride?
Cheers!

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