Premiership glory remains a pipe dream without a wealthy owner, by David Callam
17th December 2009
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Premiership glory remains a pipe dream without a wealthy owner

FOOTBALL may be a funny old game, but it is also a serious business.

And it has to be treated as such by those who aspire to own clubs, particularly those in the upper two divisions of the English football league system.

Crystal Palace appears to be in trouble again, having problems making ends meet in the present difficult financial climate.

But exhortations to thousands of fans, who may or may not exist, to swell the gate figures at home games and generate additional revenue may not be the solution.

The days when people grew up and lived in the same area all their lives, supporting one football team from cradle to grave have long gone, particularly in a cosmopolitan area like Croydon.

The three males in my household all support different football teams – and none of them is Crystal Palace. Two of us are also fans of rugby union and occasionally swell the crowd at Harlequins.

And we make good use of the excellent television and radio coverage of all kinds of sport provided by the BBC – television cameras offer better views of a game than any seat in any stadium, while the radio pictures painted by the likes of Stuart Hall are even more vivid.

Sometimes I travel to central London at week-ends and the trains are regular seas of red and white or blue and white as south London and Surrey’s Arsenal and Chelsea fans make their way to their respective home grounds.

These are also people who might otherwise be packing the terraces at Selhurst Park, underlining the point that there are plenty of alternatives to the local second-division soccer team.

Harlequins seem to have grasped that idea – the occasional purchase of tickets has put us on their contact list and we receive regular newsletters with special offers for the next big game.

I am not aware of Crystal Palace running any similar scheme – maybe it should think about its marketing, but I suspect it must do more than that.

Selhurst Park is in need of major improvements; parking provision is inadequate and the ground is poorly served by public transport.

Crystal Palace needs a new stadium elsewhere in the borough and that requires an owner with bottomless pockets.

David Callam is a freelance journalist and the former business editor of The Croydon Advertiser. For more examples of his work and to see what he could do for your business please visit

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