In talking about all the transfer activity of the past month, we have touched on the financial problems in South London, as Neil Warnock’s Crystal Palace continue to battle against the inevitable. The sad news is that the Eagles have now entered administration and will face the standard 10 point deduction, leaving them just outside the drop zone, with the threat of relegation a distinct possibility.
Palace’s form this season has surprised many and although nothing can ever be taken for granted, the mere fact that they were comfortably mid-table and even looking as if they could push for a play-off berth suggests that they will have enough about them to beat the drop. However, the reality now is that the first priority will not be survival in the Championship, but survival of the club as an entity. There is now no doubt that belts will have to be tightened and many of their assets will surely be moving on to pastures new. Administration has long been on the cards at Selhurst Park unfortunately. The players have been paid late on a number of occasions this season and there have been fixtures when Warnock has not been able to announce a full squad, complete with the maximum number of substitutes. We can see then that this news is hardly a bolt from the blue. Chairman Simon Jordan announced his intentions to sell the club last year, and has tirelessly been searching for new investment for the club with little to show for his efforts thus far. As things stand currently, the club face a winding-up order from HM Revenue and Customs.
So what comes next for Palace? The sale of hot prospect Victor Moses had been widely reported as an inevitability and his transfer in itself will still surely go ahead but what of the fee? Warnock has slammed the timing of the decision to place the club into administration and it is easy to understand his frustrations. Previously there would have been some room for negotiation over any transfer fee, but with the situation concerning finances being made official so to speak, Palace will have to take what they can get. With the club facing debts reported to be as high as £30m, and Jordan’s search for a buyer thus far proving fruitless, it is easy to see that drastic action had to be taken but surely them move could have been delayed for another week. That would have seen the transfer window shut with a handy injection of cash made from the sale of Moses. It’s hard to see them commanding the same fee for him now.
With the move into administration announced, Warnock has a massive task to keep the players motivated in what will now be a battle against the drop. Their first fixture following the announcement was Wednesday night’s defeat away to Newcastle. A difficult fixture at the best of times, so the real test will come on Saturday when the Eagles entertain rock-bottom Peterborough. What would have previously been considered a routine home game of no greater significance than the next, is surely now a must win for Palace. In these times of uncertainty, Eagles fans can sleep a little easier knowing that they have a fantastic manager at the helm, ideal for getting them out of the scrap that they will soon find themselves in. Warnock’s sides know how to battle and there is no doubt that he can inspire the Selhurst Park team with the necessary fighting spirit for survival. Remember in an earlier article, the idea of Warnock taking charge at Sheffield Wednesday was suggested for this very reason. Now clearly Warnock would never take charge of the Owls, but he would have had the right credentials to lead them to safety and there is no reason to think that he won’t do the same now with Palace.
Of course it is too early to say for sure, but the Eagles should have little trouble in beating the drop. They have shown what they are capable of thus far this season by exceeding expectations and pushing up the table. What will become their league position after their penalty is certainly not reflective of their ability and indeed their form. There are uncertain times ahead for the club and it will take a massive team effort to stay in the Championship. They undoubtedly have the men in place to do so, but beyond this season, the future as yet is not so clear.