Clear as Crystal

Crystal Palace administrator Brendan Guilfoyle

Brendon Guilfoyle, insolvency supremo at P&A Partnership, is the
administrator in charge of Crystal Palace, the latest big football club to hit
the skids.

What’s happened?

“In football everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team,”
said philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Sadly, for modern professional football, the
real complicating factor is funding the huge financial extravagances that clubs
seem addicted to.

These are some of the factors affecting Crystal Palace’s entry into
administration under the management of football insolvency specialist Guilfoyle.

The south London club called time on its current round of financial
fluctuations last week after wracking up debt of £32m. £20m of that is owed to
club chairman Simon Jordon, with £4m due to Agilo, the hedge fund, and HMRC
waiting to recoup around £2m. Football creditors – players and management – have
registered an outstanding £1.5m.

But Guilfoyle’s substitution into the financial stage of this particular game
was no debut for the Leeds-based IP. Previous beautiful game appointments have
included Leeds Utd and Luton Town. Therefore, Palace has a man in charge who
knows his way around the unstable world of football finance.

What happens next?

Guilfoyle has to tackle all these competing interests in his bid to get
Palace back up and past a financial fitness test. This will be no easy task.
There are plenty of people in the boardroom out of pocket. Guilfoyle has already
courted con­troversy by reportedly taking top asset, Victor Moses, off the team
sheet for last week’s 2-0 defeat by Newcastle to avoid injury ahead of his sale
to Wigan.

The insolvency man is therefore not only negotiating debts, but also team

It’s also a clue to his way forward – sell off what’s valuable, get the club
up and running with what’s left and look for a buyer. What Guilfoyle really
needs, if he’s to bring about a quick resolution to the crisis that has clipped
the Eagles wings, is for the talking to stop and for someone to stump up some

Complicating the prospects for any potential owner is the freehold of the
club’s ground Selhurst Park. It is currently held by PwC on behalf of Lloyds.
But the ground is worth much more without the club on it.

What all parties will get from Guilfoyle, a past president of R3, the
professional body for insolvency professionals, is a straight opinion and a
dedication to robust ethics.

In 2008 he was quoted saying: “A lot of people want to have off the record
discussions with an IP. To my mind there is no such thing… The moment you are
appointed as an IP formally you can’t guarantee confidentiality.”

The backroom deals that have so often marred football are not on the Crystal
Palace agenda. The creditors will have to deal with Guilfoyle out in the open,
or not at all.

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