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FootballNewsPalace administrator: ‘Rich but pragmatic fans could be in control soon’ (no P Diddy)

Palace administrator: ‘Rich but pragmatic fans could be in control soon’ (no P Diddy)

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By Nick Harris

31 March 2010

EXCLUSIVE

The prospective saviours and owners of Crystal Palace are “high net worth” individuals but have a “pragmatic” view to club ownership, according to Palace’s administrator, Brendan Guilfoyle, who has told sportingintelligence this afternoon they would not be considering investing in a “risky” sector such as football if they were not committed fans of the club.

Guilfoyle says he hopes to have a sale agreed “by the end of April”, and firmly put to bed any notion that the millionaire American rap megastar, P. Diddy – aka Sean Combs, aka Diddy, aka Puff Daddy – would be involved in a takeover. This website understands that Combs, worth around $350m, heard the name Palace on a trip to London, and thought it sounded glamorous because of connotations to Cristal champagne.

“On investigation, I heard from his people that he’d pass on this opportunity [to buy Palace],” Guilfoyle told sportingintelligence. “I don’t mind that he was linked to the club,” he added.”If nothing else, it got publicity from here to Australia and meant nobody who might have an interest would miss the fact the club’s for sale.”

Guilfoyle declined to confirm the identities of the current bidding group – the so-called CPFC 2010 consortium – for confidentiality reasons. But it is understood that the leading figure is Steve Parish, a lifelong Palace fan and the CEO of a London-based design and production company. Parish has been a club sponsor in the past.

“I’ve found this group of high net worth individuals but they take a pragmatic view in stepping up to the plate with their proposal to buy Palace,” Guilfoyle says. “I’d guess you’d describe them as classic local-lads-made-good. But they want to be sensible in what they’re doing. Their plan also involves the stadium [which will need buying in a separate deal from a separate administrator].”

Palace lie 22nd of 24 in the Championship and are threatened with relegation to League One after being deducted 10 points for entering administration earlier this year.

The club is understood to have around £30m of debt, including about £18m owed or effectively owed to the previous owner, Simon Jordan. Some £11m of that £18m is actually owed to Lloyds Bank but is secured against Jordan’s private assets, so he is ultimately responsible for it. Another £4.5m is owed to a hedge fund, Agilo, the firm that called in the administrators earlier this season, much to Jordan’s fury.

“We’ve become used to a scenario in football where clubs go into administration and almost inevitably survive but times are really hard and I don’t think all these troubled clubs will necessarily keep on surviving,” Guilfoyle said. “Palace are fortunate in that this current interest is from fans; they probably wouldn’t consider this as a sensible business venture under normal circumstances. Equally, because they’re fans, relegation isn’t such an issue [because they would be involved for the long term].”

The CPFC 2010 group was officially named as Guilfoyle’s “preferred bidder” on Tuesday. There may be no Diddy or Puff Daddy involved, but there is one music figure involved in the form of the DJ David “Kid” Jensen, the Canadian-born British star of yesteryear on Radio 1 and Capital Radio among others.

Jensen is a big Palace fan, and now the CPFC 2010 group’s official spokesman. He said yesterday: “I am pleased to be assisting the CPFC 2010 Consortium, who are grateful and privileged to be granted preferred bidder status. Like me, the club is important to them and they have come forward with an offer to save the club from closure.”

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