The Thursday Preview: Crystal Palace Vs Peterborough

Posted by on Jan 28, 2010 in The Thursday Preview | 3 Comments

I speculated in December as to what odds you could get on a Championship club entering administration this season and, less than two months later, it’s all kicked off at Palace after murky creditors Agilo Ltd, a Cayman Islands-registered company, got the administrators involved. The Eagles were, along with Watford, the subject of that post but while Lord Ashcroft came to the rescue of the Hornets before Christmas, there was to be no last minute reprieve here, despite a rumoured last minute intervention by Ron Noades. The former Palace Chairman spoke smarmily on Sky Sports News about the situation yesterday morning, and one wouldn’t be surprised if he were to rear his parasitical head yet again. Whether Palace fans would be open to his return is difficult to assess, but that it should even be an option emphasizes the gravity of the the black hole they are currently engulfed by.

Many fans have harked back to 1999 when the club was placed into administration after the Mark Goldberg years, comforting themselves with the knowledge that they’ve risen from the ashes before. Will history repeat itself this time around? Palace Fanzine Five Year Plan compares then and now favourably, but from the perspective of neutral onlooker things look ominous. Manager Neil Warnock hasn’t yet been able to name more than five substitutes in 2010, culminating in leaving just three on the bench in last night’s 2-0 defeat at Newcastle. Having such a small squad may have allowed Warnock to foster an all together now mentality up to this point, but he will have to use every ounce of experience in his possession to steer Palace clear of the bottom three should his cherries be picked.
The Eagles possess an uncompromising Championship spine, but don’t score that many on average. When they do it’s most often Darren Ambrose or Victor Moses on the sheet (their plumpest fruits have, between them, scored 17 of Palace’s 27 goals to date), so it’s likely that these two will be namechecked freely in the media. Onlooking vultures might also keep an eye on Neil Danns, who has been quietly reviving his career in South Norwood, as well as fans’ favourite Julian Speroni and the promising youngster Nathaniel Clyne. Should more than two of these players depart, then Palace might have to resort to sub-Warnock ugly football to stay in the league with Alan Lee’s elbows being called upon more readily than usual. And that’s if an angry Neil Warnock remains loyal and stays the length, too.
For all the wrong reasons, every game from here is ‘huge’ for Palace and in Peterborough fans could not have hoped for a glummer team to host in their first post-administration game at Selhurst Park. Like some kind of pre-Sky throwback, Posh have come up to the Championship with a couple of terraces and a wave of enthusiasm for lower league pedigree over second tier brawn, but as enigmatic chairman Darragh MacAnthony confessed a few days ago, this season has been “been nothing short of a disaster”. How attacking both the previous and current management as well as everyone else at the club from “top to bottom” will ease the situation is anyone’s guess.
Reading stories such as that along with the increasing hopelessness of LondonRoad.net, it is tough to see how a side that has just three wins to their name can emerge from such a rotten fix. The off-field nastiness between the Chairman and Darren Ferguson continues unabated and remains a distraction, and for what is such a long season, it is remarkable how many seem to have accepted that the Posh’s is already over with 19 games yet to play. Nosediving QPR follow at home for Peterborough after Saturday’s trip to Croydon, so these two games might present a glimmer for blue-tints. Providing, though, that Moses (Victor as opposed to Owen) is Palace’s only forced absentee, I can’t see past a home win by a two goal margin.
Lloyd
is co-editor of The Two Unfortunates. He’s 30, supports Plymouth Argyle and takes a particular interest in the fortunes of those Football League clubs west of Bristol.

2 Comments

  1. Lloyd
    January 29, 2010

    Thanks for your kind words. Being a Plymouth fan, I have a lot of sympathy for you (we'll be in a similar position soon I think) and for our ex-manager Neil Warnock in particular. It would be great if we could both stay up, but of more pressing concern is your existence I'm sure.

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  2. scarf
    January 30, 2010

    Interesting post. Peterborough are where they are because MacAnthony, for all his bluster, is not prepared to invest the money required to keep the club in the Championship. Whilst there are, of course, always a couple of gems to be gleamed from the lower leagues – George Boyd is a particularly good player, thought probably lacks the pace to play at the very top – if you have a squad and a manager from the lower leagues then that's ultimately, 9 times out of 10, where you end up yourselves. I have personal misgivings about Darragh MacAnthony though – I don't think he's particularly a 'football person' and he's also got a reputation as something of an Irish mafioso- as The Times' exposure of a timeshare property scam a couple of years back shows. However…from what I can tell, they're in pretty decent shape off the field – their wage budget will be low because of the players and management they have – even despite a few, like the terrible Zakuani, who will be on a bit more money because of where they've come from. They have also established a great relationship with Peterborough Council, who recently bought their ground for @£9m, which – assuming Posh actually see most of the money – will help safeguard their future for some time to come. Posh will probably go down this season, but their short-term future – certainly whilst MacAnthony is still around – looks reasonably bright.

    This brings me on to Palace. This is what happens when someone other than the club (or a 'benevolent third party' such as the Council) own the ground. The sorry stories of Bournemouth, Rotherham, Portsmouth, Stockport, York, Cambridge and numerous others is testament to this. A few years ago there was a proposal by the Football League that stipulated that clubs had to own their ground. Unfortunately – and perhaps unsurprisingly, given the number of sharks owning football clubs at present – this proposal was rejected by the chairmen of the member clubs. Without the revenue streams generated by non-footballing activities such as conferencing and banquetting, suite hire and stadium advertising, the difficult economics of football clubs become virtually impossible. Football clubs are inherently loss-making at present, due to the relatively high expenditure on wages (not even thinking about transfer fees, agents' fees, hotel stays etc) relative to income, which from a footballing point of view happens really only once every two weeks. Football is unlike any other business in that it depends so much on performance on the pitch – which in turn requires investment, which is often difficult to come by. Ron Noades was bad news for Palace first time round and, judging by the rent he charges for use of Selhurst Park – which, believe me, is high! – continues to be bad news for them. Dark times ahead for the Eagles; relegation is the least of their concerns at the moment, I'd wager, though admittedly the TV money they would lose by going down would be a significant blow in itself.

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