COMMENT, Croydon Advertiser, 30 January 2004

A move for Palace that may benefit everyone

WIMBLEDON Football Club's move from its "temporary" Selhurst Park home to Milton Keynes was looked upon as traitorous by its remaining fans.

But these are hopefully not sentiments that will be shared by Crystal Palace FC fans if the tentative plans for its own move revealed this week come to fruition.

The whole idea revolves around the Eagles being able to switch from Selhurst Park to a state-of-the-art ground at the National Sports Centre site in Crystal Palace Park, replacing the generally accepted worn-out stadium there at the moment.

If the idea gains momentum then we believe there is something good in the move for everyone.

For South London as a whole, the prospect of Palace becoming the anchor tenant in a new stadium would greatly enhance Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone's chances of getting financial backing for his ambition to make the area a centre of excellence for sport and, indeed, get the stadium rebuilt in the first place.

The club, whose chairman Simon Jordan has no great love affair with Selhurst Park, would continue with a leasing agreement but would gain use of much better facilities.

Fans, too, would gain from all the advantages a modern ground has to offer.

The journey from parts of Croydon may be a bit longer but the idea of the club going back to its roots could well outweigh any feelings of sentimentality they have for Selhurst Park

The club would the not have to fear plummeting attendances particularly if performances on the field are good. On the face of it, it might appear that Croydon would lose from the deal as the new ground would be in neighbouring Bromley.

But the feeling in town hall circles is that while there will be an economic impact on the area around the existing ground, this could be alleviated by some kind of redevelopment of Selhurst Park.

And it could be more than compensated for by the economic benefits brought to shops and businesses in the Upper Norwood Triangle.

The blot on the landscape is the prospect of worsening traffic congestion and a dearth of good public transport.

All the more reason why pressure should be put on the Government and Transport for London to ensure the East London Line project and extensions to Tramlink - both serving Crystal Palace - arrive as soon as possible.

At this stage everyone is playing what cards they have close to their chest. We look forward to the project going public and turning what are just ideas into real benefits in the future for everyone.

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30/1/04 Last updated 30/1/04