Is there no end to the irresponsible practices of the major UK banks? We cover their losses, we guarantee their survival, and we fund their bonuses. And how are we repaid? First, Bank of Scotland apparently agrees to sell Selhurst Park for a price below that which a property developer would be ready to pay (which does beg the question of just what is the current value of a relatively large, poorly maintained, damp and downbeat private members toilet in one of London’s utterly unloved areas). Now we are told that Bank of Scotland’s parent, Lloyds Banking Group, has reached agreement with CPFC 2010 for the sale of the ground, paving the way for a full deal to go through and seemingly avoiding the prospect of the administrator starting to flog off any Palace player at any price (which does beg the question ....).
It’s all very disappointing. Just as I’ve switched all my pension into the hedge fund that pushed Palace into administration in the first place, so I was poised to move all my accounts to Lloyds. But no more. It’s obviously time for Eric Daniels to go. We accepted him destroying shareholder value by taking on a complete closet case of a bank just because of a bit of government pressure, but Lloyds striking a deal to head off the liquidation of Palace? Heads should not just roll but be kicked all the way across town. And as for CPFC 2010 calling for intervention by new prime minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, I’m up for that. I’d even write to that dipstick Vince Cable – who was after all banging on about banks’ irresponsibility in a grubby attempt to win votes – about the need for banks to get the best price available for assets being disposed of, whatever the consequences. If that means taking the full ten quid from a local spiv rather than the lower offer from Palace fans so be it.
I do still love it that the best they can come up with as the case for allowing Palace to continue is that it is “supported by thousands” (so apparently is Cliff Richard but you wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to put a stop to him) and that the club “has a 100-year history”. By definition anything that has been around for 100 years has a 100-year history. But even Palace diehards must acknowledge it hasn’t exactly been glorious, has it? We’ve learnt to live without Woolworths. I was trying to think of a suitable use for Selhurst Park and the best I can come up with so far is hiving it off to BP to be mixed with the other rubbish and used for a fresh attempt at plugging the leaking well. It would be a fitting end for a property which to date has served no useful purpose.
If this all sounds like throwing stones in glass houses at a time when we are not exactly immune from financial pressures, well we need to get our laughs where we can at the moment. And in any event an actual liquidation of Palace never seemed likely. If the administrator’s deadline had been missed, he’d have sold some players. That might have prompted CPFC 2010 to walk away for now, but they would have been back with a different offer. Let’s face it, Palace can’t even do real financial crises in style; we helped to define the art.
In truth it just doesn’t bloody matter. Not much football-related does at the moment. I couldn’t get worked up about Palace avoiding relegation on the final day, with other impending games a good deal more important (and having watched the game you had to say they looked a cut above Sheff Wed, who can have no complaints about going down). This weekend I couldn’t even be bothered that Swindon rolled over tamely against Millwall. The outcome does mean that I’ve had to change my line when it comes to explaining why our season turned out as it did. Previously I’d been arguing that we had to go into the play-offs to ensure that Millwall couldn’t be promoted, a line which has become a little difficult to defend. Now I outline to friends that, having decided a few years back to leave The Premiership, our priority has been to achieve a state as quickly as possible that would involve not having to lower ourselves and play against either Palace or Millwall. We’ve taken a rather circuitous route (OK, just going back to the top flight would have been enough) but the end-goal has indeed now been achieved. When we start to look forward to next season – and it’s far too soon for that - there is indeed at least the real satisfaction of knowing that we will not have to get our feet truly dirty.