At the start of the decade, the future of Crystal Palace Football Club remained in serious doubt. Administrators were all set to liquidate the club if the purchase of Selhurst Park was not agreed by 1st June 2010. As the news circulated, some fans gathered at the ground to protest the day before, while around 250 supporters made the trip outside the London headquarters of Lloyds Bank, where a do-or-die meeting was taking place between the bank and a consortium, headed by Steve Parish, named Crystal Palace 2010.
At the eleventh hour, the club was lifted out of administration and Parish, along with Stephen Browett, Martin Long and Jeremy Hosking, were hailed as heroes. Their first step was to appoint George Burley as manager, with Dougie Freedman continuing in the role of assistant.
Burley’s reign barely lasted six months though, before a 3-0 loss at Millwall on New Year’s Day 2011 proved to be his final game in charge. With Palace in the relegation zone, Steve Coppell was linked with another spell as boss, while Chris Hughton and Eddie Howe were also touted as possible successors. In the end, Freedman was given the chance to save the Eagles from the drop, after signing a two-and-a-half-year contract.
Palace secured crucial home victories over fellow relegation candidates Preston and Middlesbrough, before beating promotion hopefuls Cardiff City, but defeat at home to bottom-three side Scunthorpe in mid-April halted the Eagles’ momentum. However, a victory over Leeds at Selhurst Park, followed by a draw at Hull, were enough to secure Palace’s Championship survival, finishing in 20th place.
The 2011/12 season brought mid-table mediocrity, as Freedman guided his side to 17th in the Championship. But the season would be best remembered for another brilliant League Cup run, as Palace disposed of Premier League giants Manchester United at the quarter final stage, thanks to memorable goals from Darren Ambrose and Glenn Murray at Old Trafford. They suffered semi-final heartache though at the hands of Championship rivals Cardiff, who advanced to the final on penalties following a 1-1 aggregate draw.
Although they missed out on Wembley that year, Palace were destined to reach England’s national stadium at the end of a rollercoaster 2012/13 campaign. Dougie Freedman’s men started the season with three consecutive defeats, against Watford, Middlesbrough and Bristol City, before going on a scintillating 14-match unbeaten run to establish themselves among the front-runners in the division.
Towards the end of that hot streak though, manager Dougie Freedman left the club for Championship rivals Bolton Wanderers, leaving Ian Holloway to take the hot seat. His first game in charge was a 5-0 demolition of Ipswich Town on 6th November 2012.
Palace opened December with a 3-0 win over bitter rivals Brighton, but failed to win for the rest of the month as their automatic promotion hopes stuttered. A win at Wolves on New Year’s Day put the Eagles back on track, but they would pick up just six more wins in the second half of the season as their dreams of a top two spot faded. But a thrilling 3-2 win against Peterborough at Selhurst Park on the final day of the season secured a spot in the play-offs – an end of season lottery that Holloway had enjoyed recent success in with Blackpool.
The Eagles finished fifth to set up a two-legged meeting with Brighton and Hove Albion. The first match finished in a 0-0 stalemate in SE25, with 31-goal hero Glenn Murray carried off injured after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament. But in a memorable night at the Amex Stadium, Palace overcame the odds to triumph 2-0 thanks to a Wilfried Zaha brace – and set up a play-off final meeting with Watford.
On a dramatic day at Wembley, on Monday 27th May 2013, an extra-time penalty from Kevin Phillips gave Palace a 1-0 victory and ensured Premier League football for the first time in eight seasons.