So, the mooted investment by American billionaire, Josh Harris, is nearly a reality. Is it a good or bad thing? Jack Pierce takes a look at the good and bad aspects of the story.
Well, increased investment in the club can’t be a bad thing provided it’s managed sensitively and effectively and that’s the key. Steve Parish, a man so keen to tell anyone who will listen that he has grand plans for the club has been actively seeking added funds for those plans to become a reality in exchange for a significant share in the club and Harris, after protracted negotiations, appears to have met the criteria as set by Parish to come on board.
Neil Ashton of The Mail and Dominic Fifield of The Guardian both published articles on the deal’s progress last week and both were fairly detailed suggesting Palace’s current hierarchy were using the two pieces as announcements rather than mere journalistic musings. Ashton’s piece in particular contained detail that could well have been written by Parish himself.
The expansion of Selhurst Park is the most obvious project that requires immediate funding and any money invested into the club by Harris is most likely to be put the way of the best building contractor who tenders for the ground redevelopment once plans are approved by Croydon Council. The current owners will have their ideals when it comes to the development of the existing site and Ashton referenced what Liverpool have done by building ‘over’ an existing stand. Undoubtedly an exciting project but one that will require a large sum amount of money and a huge positive regarding the prospective Harris investment. The sooner the building work is begun, the sooner the club and fans can enjoy the benefits of an increased stadium capacity; a certain requirement for the club if the plans that Parish et al have are to become a reality.
Off field ventures are important but most fans’ primary concerns relate to nothing more than the blokes in red and blue scoring more goals than opponents. If the proposed investment goes ahead, how could that influence the progress the club is making on the pitch?
I’m currently in the middle of Living on a Volcano by the excellent Michael Calvin, a book highlighting the pressures and worries that modern day football managers go through, and a key theme that has come across is the instability that new ownership of a club can create. A manager can be doing a good enough job but a new owner might just want their choice in place; it can be as simple and as swift as that.
While the ground redevelopment and further investment in and around the club is paramount to the club moving forward, the overwhelming majority of Palace fans will be hoping that the work of Alan Pardew isn’t hindered by any changes at the top of the club.
If the pieces of information drip-fed to the press are to believed, Parish will remain the largest stakeholder in the club and will remain in charge of day to day business; a reassurance to Palace fans happy with his management of the club thus far and the direction the club seem to be taking. If that is the case and Parish is still guiding the ship, the assumption must be that Pardew’s reign of the first team won’t be affected regardless of changes in the boardroom. During what appear to have been year-long negotiations, Parish is likely to have made clear that certain elements of the club are not to change whatever the formation of the boardroom is and Pardew’s role would surely be among those.
With a greater amount of cash in the bank, a natural assumption to make is that there will be an increased transfer kitty made available to the manager. There may well be but whether Pardew, Parish or a new investor currently deems it appropriate to splash large sums of cash on players and inject new faces into a squad seemingly balanced and relatively trouble-free during the forthcoming January transfer window does seem unlikely. If the coffers are to be increased, then any increased spending on players is likely to commence next summer once another season of Premier League football has been secured and players’ transfer values return to a more natural level instead of January’s over inflated figures.
The prospect of more than one player of Yohan Cabaye’s calibre coming in each season is a very nice thought and if Harris’ mooted investment does happen, that could well become a reality in summers to come.
All in all, increased investment in the club shouldn’t be a bad thing but the horror stories previous deals conjure, Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City for example, do provide good reason for a little scepticism.
However, the fact that Parish is rumoured to have insisted on maintaining the largest stake in the club as well as using his avenues within the media to promote the reasons and rationale behind seeking greater investment indicate Parish himself wants to reassure fans that the apparent upward trajectory of the club should only benefit from the potential investment of Josh Harris.
Never boring being a Palace fan, is it?
What do you think? Leave your comments below.