The modern football fan has unquestionably morphed into a far more nuanced beast over the last 20 years or so. Thanks to the advent of social media, supporters everywhere place huge levels of importance on topics that previously wouldn’t have mattered to them in the slightest, including the now infamous subject of a club’s “net transfer spend”.
The story of Crystal Palace’s journey from near extinction to the Premier League under the guidance of Steve Parish and his fellow directors is now a well-known one but in the transfer window just gone, we saw a definitive shift in policy, exemplified by our summer-long pursuit of Liverpool and Belgium striker Christian Benteke for a fee that would eventually come in at more than £30 million.
Ironically, the money Pardew and co. have splashed out on Andros Townsend, James Tomkins and the aforementioned frontman since May hasn’t seen the club’s coffers hit too hard, thanks to the recent sales of Yannick Bolasie, Dwight Gayle, Mile Jedinak and Alex McCarthy, who together, saw us receive more than £40 million in transfer fees.
Indeed, to gain a comprehensive view of Palace’s path from relative obscurity to a comfortable place in the top half of the Premier League we must look beyond the summer just gone, charting our rise back to the summer of 2013, when Ian Holloway embarked upon a madcap scramble for players which saw the board lay out a vastly disproportionate amount in a bid to equip us adequately for a tilt at top flight survival.
As such, Palace’s relatively surprising position on the table of “net spenders” can be looked upon as a roughly accurate blueprint of the spending necessary to establish yourself amongst English football’s elite from a comparative standing start. The only thing left to find out now, is how Steve Parish and his fellow directors approach the next stage of their development both on and off the field.