Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has promised his ambition will not change if his co-owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer quit Selhurst Park for Chelsea.
‘We’ll be fine, we’ll carry on doing what we do,’ said Parish as he vowed to keep Palace moving forward and flying the flag for those clubs locked outside the Premier League elite.
‘It’s not like we were trying to buy our way into the top four and that’s suddenly going to stop. If some people choose to do other things, we’ll manage that.’
Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has promised his ambition at the club will not change
Harris’ co-owners at Palace, Josh Harris and David Blitzer, have put in an offer to buy Chelsea
Harris and Blitzer are a key element to one of the three groups still competing for the right to buy Chelsea from Roman Abramovich, and the US investors will have to sell the stake they bought in Palace in December 2015 if they succeed.
‘All the plans will carry on,’ said Parish, who opened the club’s new £20million academy in October and hopes to start the renovation of Selhurst Park before the end of the year. ‘We’re a work in progress, trying to move forward.
‘I’ve been here for 12 years. Every day you get up and try to make the club better. You try to bring people in who will help, whether it’s Patrick Vieira or people you don’t see who improve the website and the ticketing systems and work on planning for the stadium or the academy.
‘We don’t have the money to just buy our way through. We have to put in the foundations and incrementally try to inch forward but football is a game of snakes and ladders. It’s very easy to hit a snake if you get cocky and think you’ve cracked it.’
Palace supporters lit up Wembley Stadium on Sunday despite losing 2-0 to Chelsea in an FA Cup semi-final. Chelsea face Liverpool in the final, so another major trophy is destined for one of the five clubs who have dominated for three decades since the formation of the Premier League.
Manchester United and City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea have won 28 of 30 league titles and 26 of 30 FA Cups. In the preceding 30 years, these clubs won 19 of the league titles and 14 of the FA Cups.
‘Most days it feels like someone, somewhere is trying to change the rules to disadvantage us,’ said Parish, a reference to the latest UEFA proposals designed to further ease the progress of Europe’s biggest and wealthiest clubs into the Champions League.
‘I still feel UEFA is an organisation that isn’t fit for purpose. It’s all about trying to promise the broadcasters, “We’ll get you all the top teams in the Champions League by hook or by crook, we will gerrymander it so you can give us a load of money”.’
On the subject of gerrymandering rule changes to ‘bake in’ power, he railed against the influence of the European Club Association (ECA) and Paris Saint-Germain’s president Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s seat on UEFA’s executive committee, as an ECA representative. ‘Why that club? Why not Crystal Palace or Leeds?’ said Parish. ‘It’s a ludicrous situation.
Parish fears football has regressed into a pattern where the established elite become richer and stronger at the expense of the rest
‘Maybe we’re all stupid. Maybe we all get up every day and it’s all a waste of time, we’re never going to win anything, you should stay in your place — well, I’m not going to do that. I don’t see the point. I don’t think other clubs should be prepared to do it either.
‘If you lose that idea that you can make a difference then you just bake in this stuff UEFA are talking about that if you win the FA Cup and you’re Tottenham you go into the Champions League but, if you’re Aston Villa or Nottingham Forest, you don’t.
‘It’s never-ending. It really does feel like you’re besieged. We’ve got a lot of battles coming up.’
One year after supporters revolted to stop six English clubs breaking out to form a European Super League, Parish fears football has regressed into a pattern where the established elite become richer and stronger at the expense of the rest. ‘We’ve gone backwards,’ he said.
Palace were the only non Big Six member in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley at the weekend
‘They’re still getting everything they want. There was a spirit of revolution but no one has even taken a penny off them. For some bizarre reason, everyone feels intimidated by making any kind of positive change.
‘We have to remember we all love football because teams like us can get here. You’ve got to have that, right? It might not be ideal for what they want to sell for television but if clubs like us don’t make it then the broader interest starts to dry up.
‘So when we hear our fans were brilliant, so are the fans of Leeds or Aston Villa or Southampton or Sunderland or Middlesbrough. If we get a day like Sunday we’re representing all of them, all of the people who still believe.’