Complacency Costs: The Crucial Errors at Boardroom Level That Have Contributed to Palace's Plight

Publish date:

Rewind to June 1 2010. Crystal Palace Football Club were just hours away from liquidation, hours away from ceasing to exist, before a consortium led by Steve Parish and accompanied further by Stephen Browett, Martin Long and Jeremy Hosking saved the club at the death. The aptly named consortium 'CPFC2010' proceeded to outlay a 'five year plan' to get the Championship strugglers into the Premier League by 2015. 

Unsurprisingly, CPFC2010's first campaign was a season of stability, as the Eagles finished 20th in the Championship. The following season saw a slim improvement, finishing 17th and beating Manchester United at Old Trafford on the way to the League Cup semi-finals, but it was to be the 2012/13 campaign that Steve Parish and co's plan accelerated drastically. 


Palace begun the season in familiar fashion, losing their first three league games, before a 14 game unbeaten run propelled the Championship also-rans to the heady heights of first place. 

This impressive run of form saw boss Dougie Freedman pinched by Bolton, although Palace retaliated by pinching a manager of their own from Blackpool in Ian Holloway, who duly led the notorious relegation flirters to the glitz and glamour of England's top flight via the Play Offs. 

It was from this moment that CPFC2010, Steve Parish in particular, began to realise the depth of the challenge ahead, as their initially tiny investment now had to be prepared to compete with the riches of Chelsea and Manchester City.

The acceleration of the 'five year plan' by two years may have led Parish to become complacent, and feel that no matter what course of action he proceeded to take, his beloved Eagles would always be ahead of schedule and be allowed margin for error.

In turn, he may have been justified in thinking that, but the remainder of the Premier League journey leading up to today's debacle just wreaks of complacency and smacks of a chancing businessman riding his luck in the world of football. There has not been one incident that has led to the club's current situation, merely a succession of events that have culminated in a club on the brink of obscurity getting in over their heads in the big time. 

Numerous managers have come and gone in Palace's five years in the Premier League, with a total of eight bosses having roamed the touchline at Selhurst Park, a number so large in such a short space of time that it seems more than just coincidental. 


It has been suggested that Parish in particular has interfered so heavily with first team matters that he has driven the likes of Tony Pulis, Sam Allardyce and more recently Frank de Boer towards the exit door, such is his stinginess with transfers. One incident in particular saw Pulis draw up a list of ten targets for the summer window, two for each position he desired to strengthen, only to see one be acquired in the shape of Brede Hangeland. 

A previous incident saw the Welshman state his intentions to sign both Demba Ba and Connor Wickham in the January window, only to be handed Tom Ince instead. The frustration continued into the aforementioned summer window, when Pulis was told there were no funds to sign his long term target - Wickham - as Parish wanted to bring home Wilfried Zaha. Pulis duly upped sticks and left. 


Furthermore, Parish has been guilty of backing the wrong managers and irking the right bosses, proved by his heavy funding for Alan Pardew's ill-fated spell. Admittedly, the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Christian Benteke were bought in, but it was Pardew and Parish's heavy spending on the likes of Chung-Yong Lee and Jordon Mutch on lucrative wages that has left the Eagles unable to shift their dead wood. 

The added investment of American duo Joshua Harris and David Blitzer has perhaps led Parish to splash more cash than sense, but it was the errors at boardroom level in the summer just gone that have really started to show the cracks in the aftermath of the 'five year plan' coming to an end. 


Following Allardyce's decision to leave, Parish, Harris and Blitzer had over a month to appoint a new man at the helm, in which a shortlist of 37 candidates (in the weakest sense of the word 'short') was drawn up. Names such as Sean Dyche, Mauricio Pellegrino, Marco Silva and Frank de Boer were mentioned, but the latter was appointed after 34 days of discussion. 

The Dutchman was given just £8m for his only signing of choice in Jairo Riedewald, as well as two loanees in Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, with the £26m capture of Mamadou Sakho looking largely like a signing that Parish was intent on making with or without de Boer's input. As a result of splashing the second highest fee in the club's history on the Frenchman, Palace have been left with just one senior striker on the books - who is now out for two months - as well as a severely depleted goalkeeping department, two positions that the £26m spent on a sixth current centre back could've been reinvested in. 

Just over seven years since the day that 'CPFC2010' took the reigns in south London, the hugely successful 'five year plan' looks to have plateaued, and unless Roy Hodgson can turn the form of six successive losses with zero goals scored around, Parish's mistakes may haunt him for years to come.