Football: Coppell points the finger at Noades

STEVE COPPELL, the Crystal Palace caretaker manager, has blamed the club's former owner, Ron Noades, for the Eagles' desperate financial problems.

The club has been placed in the hands of the receiver, with debts of up to pounds 23m, and players have threatened strike action after not receiving wages for March before an administration order was granted by the High Court to allow the club to continue trading.

Coppell insisted the current owner, Mark Goldberg, and the side have suffered because of Noades' lack of focus after promotion to the Premiership in 1997. "Right from when we got promotion I think in his mind he always had the idea of selling the club," Coppell said. "He wasn't really focused. He wasn't really putting his mind to it. I think if Ron was really concentrating on the job we wouldn't have got in the mess we have got into.

"From 10th in the [Premiership] table, I think injuries were what started us on the rocky road and then all the turmoil took over from about Christmas onwards. Ron always said, with Mark [Goldberg] around, it was a case of heads he won and tails Mark lost. The offer was so massive, so good, Ron couldn't refuse it in the end. And I think it was to the detriment of the club and the supporters have suffered more than anyone."

Coppell is also concerned that Noades, who is currently in charge at Brentford, still owns Palace's Selhurst Park ground. The former Manchester United winger wants the Eagles to make ownership of their own facilities a priority. "Ron owns the ground at the moment and we pay him rent," Coppell said on Channel 5 last night. "I fail to see how Crystal Palace or any club can proceed and be competitive in any division when they are paying to use their own facilities."