Early Doors

Palace’s £120m just a drop in the ocean

Early Doors

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Crystal Palace: in the money?

Early Doors is a cynical old goat. That’s why, when it heard the play-off final described as “the £120 million match”, it scoffed.

The sums, ED assumed, were done by the same people who reckon Manchester United have 659 million fans (including 27 million in South Korea).

£120m. Just a nonsense figure dreamed up on the assumption that, after Palace’s Wembley win, every man woman and child in Britain would go out and buy a Damien Delaney replica shirt.

Now, ED isn’t just cynical. It’s also lazy. So there was no chance of it ever bothering to check the numbers out for itself.

But it did manage to check the Twitter feeds of people who are prepared to put in the hard yards - @sportingintel and @SwissRamble - and found itself surprised.

It seems the £120m quoted is both true and easy to explain.

It is not the result of Jim White hyperbole. Well not directly, anyway. It’s the effect of a new TV deal that guarantees even the Premier League’s bottom club £63m instead of £39.8m.

Even if Palace finish bottom, they will earn £60m more in TV money than a Championship side. And they will then receive another £60m over four seasons in parachute payments (based on a decreasing percentage of the TV share).

So it is a real £120m - albeit one paid across five years, and which will get chipped away by increased wages, tax etc.

Given the rewards, it’s hardly surprising clubs damn near bankrupt themselves chasing the cash.

In fact it seems faintly ludicrous that Palace would sell their best player, Wilfried Zaha, to Manchester United for not much more than 10 per cent of the promotion windfall.

It’s a huge amount. Sadly, it’s nowhere near huge enough.

To put things in perspective, United recently posted £97.1m turnover from the third quarter of 2012, with an estimated £360m annual income. That’s before the new TV deal which will land the champions £100m instead of the current £60m.

Oh, and did we mention United’s ever-expanding portfolio of sponsorship deals - the most recent addition to which is Official Social Gaming Partner ‘gloops’ (no, ED neither)?

While £120m over five years correctly reflects the financial effect of winning the match versus losing it, it is not what Noel Edmonds would call ‘life-changing money’ - not in the Premier League, anyway.

Fellow promoted clubs Cardiff and Hull have collected the same dosh, while those in the Premier League club already receive it (and will get the same parachute payments if they go down).

The proof is in the results.

While an impressive 17 of the last 30 promoted clubs have stayed up at the first time of asking, none have emerged as a genuine force.

Let’s go back a decade to 2002/03, when 14 of the top flight clubs were the same as this season.

The teams out? Blackburn, Middlesbrough, Charlton, Birmingham, Leeds and Bolton.

Replaced by: Swansea, Stoke, Norwich, Reading, QPR, Wigan (half of whom have just been relegated).

In the last 10 years, no team has come into the Premier League and established itself as a proper contender.

Even with all the foreign ownership and money being thrown about in the second tier, the biggest promotion success stories are fan-owned Swansea, followed by Stoke, followed by Norwich. Hardly a murderers’ row of football powerhouses.

The parachute payments do seem to help a bit - 23 teams were relegated between 2003 and 2012 - and 11 of them have been back in the top flight since - West Brom (three times), West Ham (twice), Sunderland (twice), Birmingham (twice), Wolves (once - last season not so much), Southampton, Crystal Palace, Norwich, Reading, Newcastle, Hull.

Mind you, the likes of Leeds, Charlton, Sheffield United demonstrate that once you leave the party, you’d better get back quickly or it could be a very long wait - cheery news for Wolves fans everywhere.

£120 million is no golden ticket - it just allows you to compete on something like a level playing field with the weakest teams in the top flight.

Most teams spent it all; none of them emerge as world-beaters.

But as any Palace fan will tell you, it’s not about the money anyway. It’s about the right to swap Oakwell for Old Trafford, Ashton Gate for Anfield.

Palace have already been installed as 4/7 favourites to go down. Life in the top flight won’t be easy - but it should be fun.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Former Watford owner Laurence Bassini’s charming response to yesterday’s result, as texted to the Watford Observer: “How is the feeling in the town now? ... Because for me the feeling is amazing. What goes around comes around. This is my happiest memory of Watford. Print this in the paper, Laurence Bassini. I have to go now and open the Champagne. All my love to Watford.”

FOREIGN VIEW: Speaking of money, Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao and Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes are expected to complete moves to Monaco.

Falcao, 27, is expected to sign for a French record fee of £51.3m while no fee has been listed for 31-year-old Valdes who has only one year left on his contract at the Camp Nou.

According to AFP, both players will have medicals on Tuesday.

Alex Chick - @alexchick81

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