Crystal Palace last night failed to pay the wages of staff and players. Chairman Simon Jordan blamed a "cash flow problem" which will delay payment by 10 days at the most.
The news was broken to the players in the dressing room after the Championship club's 3-0 defeat of Watford on Saturday. "It wasn't the best thing to have to tell them after such a good win," said manager Neil Warnock, "but I told them the chairman had been great with us, and this was our chance to rally round him.
"I explained the chairman has a cash flow problem and the wages will be paid 10 days late. So it will be in time for their Christmas shopping if not for my birthday [Warnock is 61 today]. They were OK with that and very supportive." Warnock added the players would, if necessary, be bailed out by the PFA, the players' union, unlike him and his staff. "I should be the one who's worried," he said, "but I'm not because I know Simon's doing his best. He's a smart businessman and it's just a matter of cash flow."
The timing of the delay suggests that the wages will, if necessary, be paid out of receipts following Saturday's home match against Doncaster Rovers.
Warnock has been operating under a transfer embargo for most of the season and has not paid a fee for a player since signing Alan Lee for £600,000 in August 2008. Nevertheless, Palace are within two points of the play-off places after losing one match in 12.
Jordan, a lifelong Crystal Palace fan, bought the club in 2000 and initially invested heavily in an attempt to take them into the Premier League. This was achieved in 2004 but they were relegated after one season. Jordan appeared to lose heart 18 months ago after a transfer tribunal ruled that Tottenham should only pay £700,000, rising to a maximum £2m, for teenage prodigy John Bostock.
The 42-year-old telecoms tycoon has been actively trying to sell the club ever since, without any indication of success. "Simon's a good friend," said Warnock, "and I know he's disappointed he's not been able to give me the millions other managers had, but we've still got a terrific atmosphere at the club and we're doing ever so well on a very small squad." There was, added Warnock, no danger of the any players refusing to play against Doncaster.
Jordan rescued Palace from possible administration when he took over and the non-payment of wages will obviously spark fears of a repeat but Palace insist it is just a cash-flow issue. Entering administration would incur a 10-point deficit, which would leave the club above the relegation zone only on goal difference.
More likely, the club will use the transfer window to relieve the financial pressure by selling one of their talented young players, with Victor Moses, Nathaniel Clyne and Sean Scannell all interesting top-flight clubs.
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