The new football season starts today and I can't say I'm too excited. For years I would attempt to see a pre-season friendly and then look forward to the opening game, but not this year. Football is now an expensive day out, but more importantly I find it a little depressing knowing that my club, Crystal Palace, is unlikely to achieve much this season. Also, the business itself appears to be stagnating and sadly I see a day when we are relegated as Simon Jordan's financial support dry up. And who can blame him from getting out of the game?
We are a club stuck in a poor position and we seem to be repeating the same approaches to the football business which have not worked year on year. We are in a rut and I don't see an obvious way out, other through luck – perhaps happening upon some amazing talent for free who can lift the squad, but that still doesn't deal with the underlying business.
It's not too late to make a change, but I fear that time is running out. I believe that some fresh vision is needed and calculated risk taking required. The club has dipped it's toe into this "forward thinking space" a few times: including a team in the USA that was designed to produce some talent to come to London and a partly successful youth Academy, but other parts of the club are very poor.
Lacklustre marketing over the past few years has meant that the profile of Crystal Palace is low and we have appalling attendance figures. Every year we should have been working hard to attract all types of people to the stadium, thinking much longer term (getting into schools for example). When you consider that several million people live within a 5 miles radius, you have to question what the marketing people are actually doing?
It looks to me like the club has run out of ideas. Of course, it's not all the managements fault. The "game" has changed and Palace missed the opportunity to progress when relegated from the Premier league a few years ago.
The gulf between the rich clubs and everyone else is huge and the gap is growing and growing. It means that, unless a rich benefactor pumps millions into a club, there's no chance of moving up the leagues.
For me, money is ruining the game - take Manchester City and the vulgar amounts they are throwing about. You can't tell me that the players that have been signed recently are going to further the cause of the club - it's all about money. According to the press, Gareth Barry wanted to leave Aston Villa to play in the Champions League with Liverpool and he is now paid a fortune at Man City with no European football at all! Adebayor was said to have begged Manchester United and Chelsea to buy him on the day he was signing for City!
Am I jealous of the money - well yes and no. The game for me is all about hope - perhaps one day we will achieve something special having grown a great team and that's being taken away by the big spenders and the growing gulf between big and small clubs. Or.... the top 6 or so and the rest. What I want is to support a team that gives itself a chance and to have followers who get behind the team, management and board. Why should I spend £50+ on a Saturday to travel to the game and enter a run down stadium to watch a team that stands no chance of success? Once I may have down that, but the future looks so bleak, I just am not interested.
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