By Nick Harris
1 June 2010
NB: 5.20pm UPDATE AT FOOT OF STORY
Crystal Palace’s administrator, Brendan Guilfoyle, is still hopeful that a deal can reached today between potential buyers for the financially stricken Championship club and the Bank of Scotland, which is handling the – entirely separate – sale of the club’s ground, Selhurst Park.
Guilfoyle has agreed a deal to sell Palace to the CPFC 2010 consortium, which is comprised of local businessmen and Palace fans, and led by millionaire Steve Parish, a lifelong Palace fan and the CEO of a London-based design and production company.
The sticking point is that CPFC 2010 also need to strike a deal to buy Selhurst Park, and while a price has been agreed for that – around £4m – haggling continues over the small print, and what extras the bank might pocket in the future.
Guilfoyle, talking to sportingintelligence this morning, says that reports that the club will be liquidised and go out of business at 3pm today if a deal is not reached are “somewhat off the mark.”
There is a 3pm deadline, set by Guilfoyle, but if it isn’t met, Guilfoyle will begin what he describes as “Liquidation with a small ‘L’.”
In other words, he will begin to sell the club’s players to raise funds to keep the club running for a while longer. If no deal has been done by CPFC 2010 and the bank after a period likely to be weeks rather than days, and all Palace’s players have been sold or released, then Guilfoyle will resign and walk away, and the club would face the very real prospect of going out of existence.
But the situation is not that so dire in the coming hours that it will cease to exist today.
“I am very concerned but I’m hoping that the impasse over the stadium is negotiable,” Guilfoyle told sportingintelligence.
“My difficulty is that, in round terms, it’s costing me £1m per month as the administrator to run the club. I’ve already made dozens of people redundant and now I’ve asked others to work for nothing temporarily, which I’ve never ever done in the past.
“I haven’t been able to pay people for the month of May and sent staff home with nothing on Friday. I just cannot step forward into June with this situation continuing. We cannot just let it drift.
“That’s why the deadline is in place for the deal, because if it’s it not met then I will need to start selling players to liquidate the club’s assets. We’re already later than we wanted to be.
“We’re not just posturing. We’re in a very bad place.
“But I still hope some agreement will be reached. CPFC 2010 are genuine fans and the club is fortunate in that respect. I hope it’s possible for them to sort out the differences with the bank, but that’s not a deal I’m involved in.”
NB: A deal to save Palace has been agreed, five hours after this story was initially posted.