Yesterday, Crystal Palace chairman attended a Sports Industry Breakfast Club meeting, where he was quizzed on the club’s current state. In what was a wide-ranging chat, one quote in particular caught the attention of the press and caused quite a commotion.
Predictably, Parish was asked about the planned redevelopment of Selhurst Park, with particular interest placed upon what the club would look to do in the event of relegation, prompting Steve to give a detailed answer which was subsequently boiled down to an alarming headline for the sake of shock, awe and the holy grail of modern media, web traffic.
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What I actually said today… Asked 'just how much of a risk is investing in a stadium when the club is not guaranteed Premier League safety', Steve Parish said: "The football club has been going since 1905, and will still be going in [the year] 3005. Relegations and promotions are temporary things. What I've got to make sure is that in any eventuality, we can fulfil what we need to do to that are the long term goals of the club. So somehow, under every set of circumstances, I've got to try to make it happen. That's the job. People say to me 'is it (the stadium redevelopment) going to happen if we get relegated?' Well, there will be different challenges to making it happen, and unfortunately in football – you have this unique thing (relegation) – this destroyer of value – but you have to somehow learn to manage it. It exists. Three teams are going to get relegated each year. We're in a difficult situation this year – make no mistake. One of the big challenges of being involved in sport is on a Monday morning when you have lost in the last few minutes [v Spurs], we as a club have to find a way of keeping going. We have to make a plan. People say to me 'What I am doing right now?' I'm planning for the Championship – people say 'oh don’t worry / you won't go down'… given there's very little I can affect right now. .. I'll go to training tomorrow, I'll chat with the manager – if there's anything – anything – I can do to help – talk to the medical dept, I'll do it. Have a difficult conversation with someone, I'll do it. Whatever the manager needs doing, I'll do it. But really at the moment – it's down to the players and those guys. They know it and I know it. What MIGHT happen is that we end up in the Championship. So I can't start thinking about it when it happens. Goes on … So we have to plan for those eventualities. And of course within that we are looking at the stadium, the Academy, other plans – what plans can we still fulfil, and what can't we fulfil – that's the job of running a football club.
Before going any further, I have to admit that I too was slightly sucked in by the hysteria. Having been away from social media between the hours of 11am and 3pm, I returned to discover talk of the club openly planning for life in the Championship and took the bait to some extent, only realising later that Parish’s words had been taken drastically out of context in a bid to encourage a discussion over the foolishness of his public admission.
Well known outrage-whore Adrian Durham, flanked by former Palace chairman Simon Jordan used the platform of TalkSPORT to lambast Parish for his perceived idiocy, prompting Steve himself to hit back via Twitter, having felt that his overall sentiments were being twisted for the purpose of a lively phone-in debate. In truth, the whole furore acted as the perfect example of a figurative storm in a teacup, once the full quote was released by Parish on Instagram in the hours that followed.
Describing both promotions and relegations as transient events in the life of any football club, Parish admitted that, whilst the prospect of dropping down a division is a possibility, the plans regarding the stadium must not be impacted by that sense of fear. I’m sure you’ll agree, once you’ve read the above quote in full, that his views do in fact make sense in the circumstances, but a measured discussion over the gradual improvements in off-field infrastructure at Crystal Palace FC doesn’t make for attention grabbing radio.
In an ideal world, Roy and his players will make it through the current rough patch before putting enough points on the board to secure our place in the division for another year, placing any immediate worries of a drop into the second tier on the back-burner.
It won’t be an easy task but we’ve been in plenty of similar binds over the years. My only hope is that we can get through this one and put measures in place to ensure we’re not faced with the same ever-repeating story for years to come.