As a potted history played out before Crystal Palace’s grand unveiling of their plans for a new Main Stand – which could cost up to £100million – it could have just been coincidence that Simon Jordan’s image passed without mention.
Steve Parish – the current chairman – was on the mic at the time and went on to outline the rebuilding work which will boost the capacity of their SE25 home from 26,000 to 34,000.
Selhurst Park has been given some TLC since promotion to the Premier League in May 2013, but not on anything like this grand a scale.
Parish did touch on the influence of Ron Noades, who was at the helm for 18 years until 1998 when he sold to Mark Goldberg, who had plans for a boom but instead quickly went bust.
It was Noades’ reign which saw the biggest changes to Palace’s ground and yet his stewardship left him as a villainous figure in the eyes of many.
“Ron wasn’t the easiest person in the world,” said Parish. “But look what he did for the football club. We had grass banks around the side of the club.
“It was the first sustained period of success, playing fantastic football. And he didn’t personally have a lot of money. He wasn’t a hugely wealthy guy. He did it out of acumen and skill.
“He was an incredible guy and looked at things in a completely different way. Mark Goldberg offered him an awful lot of money and there was a huge amount of pressure, if you remember, for him to take that money.
“Everybody saw Mark as the great saviour, bringing in all these amazing players but then the ground got separated and it was new arguments between people – maybe in those sort of things the club doesn’t seem to be the most important thing.
“You can’t say that he was anything other than a very successful owner of the football club – third in the First Division, cup finals, redeveloped the Whitehorse Stand, redeveloped the Holmesdale Stand. Just because he wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea – Ron didn’t pull his punches. He said it as he saw it.
“You always knew it was what he thought. He was never trying to pretend he was anything he wasn’t. He was always straight with me and everybody I knew. Unfortunately in a broad support base you can never keep everybody happy. I thought he was an excellent owner of the club.”
Parish was the driving force behind the CPFC 2010 consortium who brought the club out of adminstration. And the group crucially acquired the freehold to Selhurst Park, marrying the club and stadium together for the first time since 1998.
If the planning hurdles can be overcome for the impressive glass-fronted five-storey stand then it will be another major piece of legacy slotted into place.
Not that Parish, the major shareholder alongside Americans Joshua Harris and David Blitzer, says that is his major concern.
“You want a positive legacy but it genuinely isn’t about me or Steve Browett, Jeremy Hoskings, Josh [Harris] or David [Blitzer]. When we got into the whole CPFC 2010 concept it was because this football club had always been about someone.
“It’s about the club we love. My plan is to leave this club better off than I found it. What people think of me and think about that afterwards, I care about – but I care more what I think about it. I care more about whether I feel I did a good job.
“As long as I leave this place thinking I did a good job and left it in a better place then I’ll be happy.”
The plans will be submitted to Croydon Council in January. Leading stadium architects KSS – who have worked on Anfield, Twickenham and Wimbledon – are the project designers.
Parish pitches the cost already of the planning application at £1.1m.
“We’ve probably got a lot more for the £1.1m we have spent. Other people have spent a lot more. But these things are expensive.
“When people say ‘just apply for planning’. You can write something on a matchbox and get a no. But if you want a planning application that people are going to take seriously – what’s the impact on transport? That’s a study. What are the things, as you design it, that you know the planners are going to look for that you need to design out of it? You need a planning consultant who is familiar with that.
“We’re using a planning consultant who just worked on the big tower in Croydon. So they know the council and the things that are important to them and the residents. Cost consultant – it’s no point designing something and someone saying is £700m to build because it is made of gold.
“You need all of these guys and all of their wealth of experience. You need to spend money now because often it saves you money down the road.”
“There is no reason the planning application won’t be determined in March or April. There is a statute, a time period, that these things have to be dealt with. During that time we’ll get feedback and any issues.”
The Main Stand will stay open while construction goes on around it.
Parish said: “We can’t have a season or two with no Main Stand – it just wouldn’t work for us. Where would we groundshare with? There is almost nowhere we can go.
Parish pegs the net income of the new stand at £15million a year.
“We’re hoping to do better than that,” he said. “The shareholder base are capable of funding it [the build] but we’ll also look at pre-sale on some things like debentures and season tickets.
“Josh and David are up for it and will be very important in getting this thing done.
“We have got 750,000 people on our database. We sold out for the FA Cup final in three days. We have got a big waiting list for the Main Stand. There is no problem or fear that we won’t sell out this ground in the Premier League.”
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