There was one stand-out candidate to replace Steve Coppell in the summer of 1993, with his former assistant Alan Smith handed the job, and he claimed the Division One title with a game to spare in his first season to return to the Premier League. But that only brought more heartache for Palace fans, with Smith unable to save them from the drop, despite finishing fourth from bottom due to the league being restructured.
Palace looked to bounce straight back into the big time but lost the 1996 Division One play-off final to Leicester City thanks to a last-gasp Steve Claridge goal. By the time Palace reached a second successive play-off final in May 1997, Coppell once again led the Eagles out at Wembley against Sheffield United, and this time it was their turn to secure a last-minute victory thanks to David Hopkin’s curler.
Back in the Premier League, Attilio Lombardo made the shock move to SE25 from Juventus, and after a run of eight straight league defeats between January and March 1998, Coppell stepped down as manager. Lombardo took charge until the end of the season but was unable to prevent relegation. Soon after, Mark Goldberg completed a takeover of the club, and despite re-appointing Terry Venables as manager, finances were tight and Coppell returned for a third spell in January 1999, guiding his young side to mid-table safety despite the club being forced to enter administration.
After an agonising 16 months in administration, Simon Jordan bought the club but Coppell resigned before the start of the 2000/01 campaign, and once again he was replaced at the helm by Smith. Towards the end of that campaign, with the team on the brink of relegation to Division Two, Smith was dismissed and Steve Kember was placed in charge for the final two crucial games. After beating Portsmouth 4-2 at Fratton Park, a late Dougie Freedman winner against County ensured the Eagles' Division One status.
After a string of managers, Kember was given the job permanently in May 2003, but after a poor start he was replaced by former Palace striker Iain Dowie. That move brought about a miraculous transformation at Selhurst Park, which saw the Eagles soar into the play-off places on the last day of the season. Palace edged past Sunderland on penalties in the semi-final, before Neil Shipperley’s solitary goal was enough to beat West Ham United in the play-off final at the Millennium Stadium and return the Eagles to the top-flight.
Despite the 21 league goals of Andrew Johnson, Palace were once again unable to survive in the Premier League and they were relegated on the final day of the season following a 2-2 draw at Charlton Athletic. Back in the second tier, Dowie steered his side to another play-off semi-final but they were defeated by Watford, before more play-off heartache would come in 2007/08 under Neil Warnock as Bristol City knocked Palace out at the semi-final stage again.
By December 2009 the club was issued with a winding-up order and the following month, Crystal Palace fell into administration again, bringing with it a 10-point deduction and another relegation battle. Paul Hart was handed the task of keeping the Eagles in the Championship, and that brief was achieved on a memorable final day of the season, as Palace travelled to Hillsborough for a survival shoot-out with Sheffield Wednesday. They claimed a 2-2 draw to stay up at the Owls' expense, but their survival off the pitch was still in the balance.
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