Crystal Palace: Steve Parish hopeful club can secure US deal

By Matt SlaterBBC Sport
Selhurst Park
Palace have played at Selhurst Park since it opened in 1924

The owners of Crystal Palace are on the verge of bringing in new US investment that will make the club "as strong as it's been for a hundred years".

The deal would see David Blitzer and Josh Harris, who co-own NHL and NBA franchises, take minority stakes in Palace.

Co-chairman Steve Parish said he was "really hopeful we can get it done".

Improvements to the club's Selhurst Park home will be the priority, with Parish retaining day-to-day control.

Blitzer and Harris, who co-own the New Jersey Devilsexternal-link of the NHL and the NBA's Philadelphia 76ersexternal-link, are expected to take equal 18% shareholdings with Parish, who helped rescue the south London club from bankruptcy in 2010.

His partners in that deal - fellow Palace fans Stephen Browett, Jeremy Hosking and Martin Long - will see their current 25% stakes diluted to 15.33%.

Speaking to BBC Sport in New York, Parish said: "I think this club can be massive and it's a great opportunity.

"I want to move fast and to do that you need big funds. I'm prepared to do my bit, the three boys who are involved with me are prepared to do their bit.

"But we need to bring some new people in to accelerate it and make sure we've got everything we need. If I was a Palace fan, and I am, I'd be fantastically excited about the future."

Parish, who made his money in advertising, was speaking at Blazerconexternal-link, a two-day football convention set up by Roger Bennett and Michael Davies, the two British ex-pats behind the hugely popular Men in Blazersexternal-link football podcast and NBC TV show.

Conversations with Blitzer and billionaire Harris, who have made their fortunes from investment banking, have been going on for over a year, and the two have spent what Parish described as "a lot of time" getting to know the club.

Harris has often spoken of his growing interest in football, particularly the Premier League, which is booming in popularity in North America.

Parish said the new investment would enable the club to tackle a chronic lack of investment in Palace's facilities over the last 25 years, without "diverting funds from the team".

Most pressing for Parish is the need to redevelop the Main Stand at Selhurst Park, but he also wants to improve the Arthur Wait Stand and the Whitehorse Lane End, as well as upgrade the club's training ground and scouting network. There are long-term plans to build a hotel and shops at Selhurst Park.

The cost of the building work on the ground alone ranges from a reported £50m to £150m.external-link

But having rescued the club from years of mismanagement, gained promotion to the Premier League and consolidated its position, Parish is determined to take advantage of Palace's status as south London's only top-flight club.

"If this deal doesn't happen the team will be fine," said Parish, who attended a 76ers game with Harrisexternal-link on Monday.

"But I really want to see the club fulfil the potential it should have fulfilled. We've had our share of bad luck: it's time we put the record straight."

Part of the strategy will be to further exploit the burgeoning US market.

"The world began here in football three years ago, so to everybody here we're just a Premier League club - we've managed to erase the rest of our history," Parish joked.

"There is a real buzz about soccer, football, in the US and we need to capitalise on it. So we'll be back and forth here as much as we can trying to grab our fair share of support."