Reports have come out in recent days that Steve Parish has claimed Palace can win the Premier League in ten to fifteen years time.
Of course, there are caveats. The main one being investment from a rich source to push the club on further in infrastructure, which leads to more money for stellar signings. Is this a distinct possibility, or have the top clubs got too much of a stranglehold already?
Well, for starters it does not have to be Palace who win the league. It could be another mid-table club who receives the influx of money and pushes on to the next level. As Parish mentioned in the interview, who would have thought Chelsea or Manchester City could be the powerhouses they are now before the investment in the respective clubs? With West Ham United moving into the Olympic Stadium, it could be them who become an attractive proposition for further talks with the money men around the world who are interested in getting involved with English football.
Naturally, we are all hoping it is Palace who make the progression. With Harris and Blitzer still set to come on board, it signals a step in the right direction, and with the investment comes the expectation of stadium expansion and a general face-lift. Nobody wants to lose the atmosphere at Selhurst Park and for it to become a soulless bowl like so many of the newly designed stadia around the country, but there is room for improvement without losing the heritage which will make Palace a more attractive proposition for new fans.
I do not think Parish is mad to make the claim at all. Already this season, the league is tightening up. Palace securing the signing of Yohan Cabaye is testament to this, as he could fit in the vast majority of midfield’s in the league, possibly barring Manchester City. Dimitri Payet for West Ham has shown glittering form, and Shaqiri was a marquee signing for Stoke City. These are two players who would not look out of place in any team in the league, just like Cabaye.
With the middle table teams strengthening, those that are generally deemed as the best are faltering slightly. The main club that springs to mind is Chelsea. There may be problems behind the scenes there, but usually when Jose Mourinho is in trouble he can grind out wins against the bulk of the league. Not this season. Over the course of a season there are bound to be upsets, but the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United seem to be slipping up more than ever. That is without even mentioning Leicester City who are leading the charge of the unfancied sides to the top.
So, with more signings of the standard of Cabaye, it seems reasonable that Palace could conceivably win the league in the next decade.
That got me thinking about a further question. Would I like it if Palace were challenging at the top? The answer seems obvious. A large part of watching football is seeing your team win and claim glory. However, if this came at the cost of real fans not being able to attend matches due to the cost or the unavailability of tickets, it just would not be the same.
It is an extreme comparison, but I would rather watch Palace in the Championship with 14,000 real supporters rather than see us in the Champions League surrounded by corporate types. There can be a balance struck, though, especially with the sensibility of the current owners. If any future owners continued in the same vein, there would be no problems and I would be all for being a ‘big‘ club.
It would be weird seeing as there is always an impending sense of doom surrounding Palace. Even in this most successful period of my Palace supporting history, I am worried that Alan Pardew will be hired by England after a poor Euro 2016 with Roy Hodgson at the helm, Parish will sell the club to a dodgy business tycoon and there will be a mass exodus of our squad after Yannick Bolasie decides he wants to go to Tottenham Hotspur in January. If we could even seriously compete for the Europa League every season like an Everton type club, it would be welcome for our collective health.
To answer both questions, Palace could win the league and with the right investment most teams could. Palace may be a more attractive proposition seeing as we are based in London and already have a good platform of players.
Perhaps the more poignant and important question is do we want Palace to win the league? If it means the supporters become disillusioned with the club due to wholesale changes, then no. If it is done with Parish at the helm, or someone with similar intentions, then definitely.
One things for sure, the next decade will be an exciting period of time for our beloved football club.