Michael Stokoe looks at the potential redevelopment of Crystal Palace’s, Selhurst Park and suggests why it could be for the greater good.
If you’ve ever been to Selhurst Park you’ll realise why the newly announced redevelopment plans for the stadium is a welcome relief for the club and its supporters.
Chairman Steve Parish has been hoping to deliver a Selhurst Park redevelopment for the fans for some time. But before fans get excited by the new plans – which are to be submitted to Croydon council in January – Palace have to make sure they are still a Premier League come two years time, when the proposed main stand is expected to be completed.
It’s all well and good having a new and improved Selhurst. But announcing the plans when they have could be contrived as a bit of gamble considering Palace’s current position in the top flight.
Palace supporters are some of the most passionate and loyal supporters in the league. They have shown in the past that they will stick with the club through thick and thin – but it’s that relatively new supporter base that could disappear if the club do in fact face relegation between now and the completion of this build.
But that’s of course hypothetical talk at the moment. Palace are seemingly on the way up since the appointment of former England manager Roy Hodgson, they’re unbeaten in six games after the recent dramatic victory over Watford, but relegation is still a very distinct threat.
So what can Palace fans expect from the redevelopment?
The plans which have been submitted are impressive, the new main stand is expected to cost between £75-100m and will increase capacity from 26,000 to more than 34,000 – whilst retaining that raucous atmosphere that Selhurst is known for.
For regular attendees, the new stand will be quite different. The plan is to have a 5-storey stand with a front facing glass centre piece – an ode to the original Crystal Palace in Sydenham Hill which was burnt down in 1936.
Other features include better facilities for the disabled; the main stand capacity will increase from 5,400 to 13,500. The pitch will be made bigger in compliant with UEFA regulations. So when Palace reaches the fabled heights of European competition Selhurst Park will be fit for purpose.
Another interesting quirk is that, once completed Palace will be eligible to host tournament football – so if England ever gets to host a World Cup Selhurst could be one of those stadiums on the list.
Although things on the pitch are not going to plan at the moment, off the pitch it looks as though Parish and co want to push the club on and a newly redeveloped Selhurst will add something different – but this threat of relegation is real and although it’s nice to see the club looking forward, the present has some more pressing concerns.
Exciting times off the pitch, but Palace need to concentrate on the present
As mentioned off the pitch it’s nice to see the club thinking ahead – but the past two years on the pitch have shown, despite the squad apparent quality it’s underachieving. And if the threat of relegation was large last season, this season dropping into the Championship could certainly be on the cards.
But, with Hodgson now at the helm after Frank De Boer brief yet disastrous spell the team has turned a corner – despite the Christian Benteke penalty furore against Bournemouth, Palace picked up a big win against Watford as they look to navigate away from the bottom three.
The team is now six games unbeaten, though it’s been too many draws and not enough wins for Hodgson’s side. But, the current nature of the bottom half of the table shows that they are still in with a shout of pulling clear.
The club made some mistakes in the summer – De Boer was supposed to bring about a change in style and a change from the old ‘Palace way’ but that didn’t work. Then Parish failed to bring in attacking reinforcements – something which is still having a big affect on the playing squad.
The stadium plan is all well and good; the fans deserve a new and improved Selhurst – but it’s the present that has to take priority. Palace has the quality in the squad to pull away from danger, and now they have the tactical nous in Hodgson – but that could all still count for nothing come May.