Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Dougie Gets Down to Business to Keep Palace in Good Health

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Dougie Gets Down to Business to Keep Palace in Good Health

Article excerpt

Byline: Henry Swarbrick

CRYSTAL PALACE are flavour of the month. Nineteen points from their last available 21 have seen the club shoot up to fourth in the Championship.

Dougie Freedman and striker Glenn Murray have received respective manager and player-of-the-month awards and the club's brightest young player, Wilfried Zaha, is constantly being linked with Premier League clubs.

But if Freedman needed a reminder of how quickly fortunes can change, he received it last week when his fellow Glaswegian, Owen Coyle, was fired by Bolton despite only 18 months ago being touted as the man to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

All of which explains why Freedman has a back-up plan: partnership in a booming business.

Focus Fitness UK, which he cofounded with former Palace player Gavin Heeroo, approaches companies in the City to offer corporate fitness training for their employees. The idea is to replace the culture of businesses splashing out on, say, an annual gokarting trip, and instead encourage their staff to commit to weekly sessions that will create a healthier and more productive workforce.

Freedman's role is understandably limited by his main concern, Crystal Palace, but the business does provide him with some personal insurance.

"They say in management there is only one guarantee: that you'll get the sack," said Freedman. "Fortunately, I've not been in that position but you've got to be realistic. I have a company that I could work in full time tomorrow morning if need be.

"It also helps me as a manager. When I went on my coaching courses, we'd talk about coaching, organising and how to get your point across. There wasn't a lot about how to balance the books or run a board meeting or make sure you don't go over budget.

"We're trying to run the club in a way to make sure we never go into administration again. So if we need to sell Nathaniel Clyne and reinvest in a different way, so be it.

"Running your own business makes you understand where the chairman and owners are coming from."

Clyne left Selhurst for Southampton in the summer, after a season of speculation about the full-back. That mantle has now been passed on to Zaha, with Arsenal scout Pat Rice visiting Selhurst last month to watch a winger who has scored four goals in his last two games. …

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