This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 12/03/2018.
Crystal Palace chairman promises Selhurst Park redevelopment will go ahead even if the club get relegated
Steve Parish says he is wholly committed to moving the club forward and that increasing the ground’s capacity is essential for that.
Crystal Palace’s chairman has assured doubters that the redevelopment of Selhurst Park will go ahead regardless of whether the club remain in the Premier League.
Steve Parish has promised he and the club are completely committed to increasing the capacity of the stadium by 8,000 even if this season ends in relegation.
Speaking to the media today (Monday), when asked if the club will go ahead with their plans if the worst case scenario became reality, Mr Parish said: “We have to plan for every eventuality and my aim is to move the club forward.
“I think this is absolutely essential in doing that.
“Whatever happens we’ve got to find a way.”
The plan involves increasing the size of the Main Stand so that the ground’s capacity as a whole increases from 26,000 to 34,000.
The project is expected to cost between £75 million and £100 million.
Mr Parish continued: “If the worst did happen then I think it would be just as important to come back [if promoted back to the Premier League] ready with [the bigger ground].
“You wouldn’t want to wait and then start thinking about it again [only when back in the Premier League]. In my opinion, it would be crazy.”
Mr Parish explained that a bigger ground increases the club’s chances of becoming a mainstay of the Premier League.
He said: “It’s just such an important project because the aim of the club is to be in this league.
“Everything we do at the club has got to be about doing the best you can do when you’re in that league.
“If the worst happened we’d have to just plough on, wouldn’t we.”
Members of Croydon Council’s planning committee will meet on April 19 to decide if they will approve the redevelopment and Mr Parish is confident they will give it the go-ahead.
He said: “It’s not like we’re building a 60,000 seater stadium and this obviously brings 8,000 more people into the area 19 or 21 days of the year.
“I like to think it’s the right scheme. We’re not being crazily ambitious. It makes a huge difference to us, to the town and to the way the whole [club and town are] perceived.
“Also to the income of the club, it will improve our chances of staying in the division and kicking on from there.”
Six homes would be demolished and the club have committed to buying a plot of land on which to replace the lost properties.
Mr Parish said: “From what I understand these people will be rehoused and then there needs to be the same number of houses rebuilt in the borough.
“I don’t think they can be existing stock. The point is we’re taking six houses so it’s not enough just to give them the money, there needs to be six new houses.
“We need to find a site and a solution to provide the lost accommodation.”
A large proportion of the hospitality already provided at Selhurst Park is sourced from Croydon businesses and with the increase in demand the redevelopment will provide, Mr Parish says he is committed to continuing to work with local companies.
With the redevelopment, Mr Parish is committed to offering many of the new jobs that will arise to the people of Croydon as apprenticeships.
He said: “We can pump money back into the local area and train up young people from around Croydon.
“It’s not about just getting them [young people] in on match days but training them in the area of catering so they have transferable skills.
“The stuff the Palace For Life Foundation does gets lost in all the noise of the Premier League. It really does.”
If all goes well on April 19, construction work will begin at the end of the current season and the way the build is taking place will allow the club to continue playing games at the ground even while the work is ongoing.
Mr Parish said: “The sense I get is everybody is working hard to make it happen.”