Palace cash blow puts youth soccer talent under threat

PUBLISHED: 11:42 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:40 16 August 2010

PALACE: Fans come out in support.

PALACE: Fans come out in support.

FANS fear that if an investor for Crystal Palace FC is not found soon, the academy that trained some of football s brightest stars could be axed.

Victor Moses

FANS fear that if an investor for Crystal Palace FC is not found soon, the academy that trained some of football's brightest stars could be axed.

Rumours are circulating that some offers on youth players are being considered by administrators Price Waterhouse Coopers who took the Selhurst Park club into administration last Wednesday.

The academy has cultivated football talent in the likes of Victor Moses, Sean Scannell and John Bostock but with running costs at £500,000 a year, its future could be under threat.

Lesley Palmer, Secretary of the Crystal Palace Supporters Trust said: "We are concerned that the administrator could make cuts to the academy.

"We have heard rumours that they could take offers for some of the younger players and that would mean that a generation of Palace football players could be gone."

On Monday, academy graduate Moses (pictured) was sold to Wigan for a reported £2.5 million three-and-a-half year contract.

But the expected firesale of the squad to raise funds for the ailing club did not materialise with Nathaniel Clyne and Neil Danns opting to stay at Crystal Palace despite agreements with Wolves and Southampton respectively.

Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock praised the commitment of his players claiming that it showed they had "faith" in the club.

But Ms Palmer, from Surrey, said that the funds received by the Moses sale may not be enough to help the club survive.

She added: "Everybody was amazed and to be fair although everybody was really pleased that the squad was not torn apart, it could be good news and bad news as the club needs funds over the next few months."

The Trust has already approached a number of potential investors, who are to remain anonymous, and plans for sponsorship and other fundraising are on the table.

The club was deducted 10 points as it went into administration in approximately £30 million of debt dropping the Championship club into the 2nd tier.

The bulk of the money is owed to current chairman Simon Jordan and various bodies including HM Revenues and Customs.

But investors may only be attracted to the club if administrators Price Waterhouse Coopers offer a deal over the land which is currently leased by Rock Investments.

If a deal is not struck, it is feared the site may prove attractive to developers.

Ms Palmer said: "With the money from Moses, and a certain amount of prudence, it may be enough to get us through to the summer.

Editor of the Crystal Palace fanzine 5-year plan, James Daly, 25, said: "I was quite surprised that Victor Moses was the only player to be sold.

"But if we sold more, the club would be struggling with no more decent players left and, as well as losing 10 points because we have gone into administration, it would not leave us in a healthy position.

"We would be nearer relegation which would be devastating so we were hoping to hold on to as many players as possible. The best option would be to find a good investor. If someone came in, we could be secure until the next season. Without one, it could essentially mean there would be no club."

COMMENT by Sports Editor Joe Shackley

EMOTIONS ran high at Selhurst Park as Crystal Palace hosted Peterborough United in the Championship.

Administration had seen the club slip from ninth in the table, on the verge of the play-offs and - potentially - the millions on offer playing in the Premier League, to just four points and two places above the dropzone and the crippling threat of relegation.

Neil Warnock and his players had already overachieved on a tight budget, making the most of their thriving academy starlets and some hardy, experienced veterans.

And so, speaking to supporters outside the ground prior to kick-off, I encountered the full range of standpoints - those who were heartbroken at seeing a fine season so far ripped to shreds, others fearing their club could be about to go to the wall, while some defiantly backed the administrators to find a suitable buyer who would rebuild this proud club.

You could have forgiven the home faithful for feeling too glum to really get behind their team and the players for buckling to their nerves now they were in a relegation dogfight. But, from the off, the 14,699-strong Selhurst Park crowd was immense. Warnock, quite rightly, was greeted by a stunning reception and the players responded in turn with a brave performance not the least bit lacking in heart, commitment and genuine moments of quality.

Neil Danns scored a brace of goals that wouldn't have looked out of place in English football's top tier in a Palace side forced by the anxious administrators to play this match - and the previous one against Newcastle United - without star forward Victor Moses.

Teen sensation Moses has now departed SE25 for top-flight outfit Wigan Athletic for a £2.5 million fee that belies his burgeoning talent. However, the fact that the club managed to hold onto the rest of its top players as the January transfer window slammed shut on Monday will surely give Warnock and his men fresh impetus for the rest of the campaign.

Administrator Brendan Guilfoyle insisted ahead of Tuesday night's FA Cup tie with Wolves that Palace was an "attractive proposition" and that he was confident a buyer would be found. Given the fact Palace is a London club, with a decent fanbase and a fine academy, a Manchester City style 'Sheik up' might not be such a ridiculous fantasy.

And, after Lotus F1 team boss Tony Fernandes missed out on a takeover at West Ham, he revealed that seven clubs had been offered to him - three of those Premier League outfits.

The likelihood that the club is taken over by a wealthy Middle Eastern investor or any other group could largely depend on the club staying in the Championship this season.

There is still much work to do. Yet, with a lionhearted manager and a blend of hungry young players and wily old pros, the club can undoubtedly repeat the efforts of 1999 and battle back from the dark depths of administration. If those who contributed to last Saturday's electric atmosphere - and perhaps a few more on top of it - can recreate that passion and pride from now until the end of the season, the Eagles can rise again.

And the footballing world will surely be glad all over to see it.

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