Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ending Football's Crazy Pay Days Will Save Clubs; Palace Co-Owner Steve Parish Tells Julian Bennetts That New Rules for Championship Will Stop Agents Holding Directors to Ransom

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ending Football's Crazy Pay Days Will Save Clubs; Palace Co-Owner Steve Parish Tells Julian Bennetts That New Rules for Championship Will Stop Agents Holding Directors to Ransom

Article excerpt

Byline: Julian Bennetts

CRYSTAL PALACE co-owner Steve Parish sees football finance very simply: it is the land where agents rule, and clubs chase a dream that is more than likely to end with them on the verge of liquidation.

That was the case when he and his fellow consortium members rescued Palace from administration and financial meltdown a year ago, and it is the reason why he believes the Financial Fair Play rules will help save football from itself.

Last month's announcement that Championship clubs had agreed to follow the Premier League and adopt a modified version of UEFA's regulations created barely a stir but to Parish it is the first sign in the past year that football's days of boom and bust could be coming to an end.

There is only one rule: from next season clubs cannot spend more than they earn. It seems simple but has proved devilishly difficult. Indeed, owners chasing the dream or living beyond their means has led clubs such as Palace, West Ham and Watford to the brink of financial oblivion.

Palace vist Hull tomorrow after a solid start to the season but Parish knows that in future owners will be unable to sustain squads of more than 24 players, while the days of spending 97.7 per cent of turnover on wages, as Palace did in 2007-08, is surely at an end.

There is an amount of 'acceptable deviation' of [pounds sterling]1m a season, and owners will still be able to pump cash into their clubs, but only through purchasing equity rather than the 'loans' with which Roman Abramovich underpinned Chelsea, for example.

Clubs who break the rules face heavy punishments, the most brutal of which is likely to be paying a fine equal to their overspend into a central pool. That money will be distributed among the other clubs in the division, meaning sides who overstretch themselves will essentially be funding their rivals.

It is, to Parish, a step that should have been taken long before now.

"There is a certain amount of insanity in football that doesn't operate anywhere else in the world," he said. "I think it is fantastic that, finally, people are trying to control that.

"What we are trying to do is create a more sensible environment on costs and it means you are far more likely to do well from acumen and skill than just throwing money at the problem.

"Football needs some help as there is this constant spiral [of clubs chasing the dream and failing]. …

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