Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish shared his plans for 2019, in the below story - which originally appeared in the Palace v Chelsea matchday programme.
Welcome to the supporters, staff and players of Chelsea, and of course to each and every Palace fan. As today’s match marks the last of the year, here I will look forward to what we have planned in 2019.
When I penned my notes for the Cardiff City match, it was amazing to think about what we had achieved in a calendar year. I have no doubt that 2019 will be even more action-packed as we look to accelerate our growth and maintain our status as a stable Premier League club, on and off the pitch.
As usual, we begin with the January transfer window. Our squad is in good shape as we have invested significantly in recent windows, but naturally Dougie and I will be looking for suitable additions in areas where we need cover.
Much of our energy in 2019 will be focused on progressing the Selhurst Park redevelopment project, working with Croydon Council and several other parties. Considering we only unveiled our plans to the world a year ago and secured planning permission within four months of the launch, we have made immense progress. But of course, I’m sure you all appreciate the scale of this mammoth project, and whilst we will encounter setbacks along the way, rest assured we are making progress and are absolutely committed to this gamechanging build.
We recently announced the 75-year lease we have secured on our academy site in Beckenham, which we will reap the dividends from in years to come. Having long-term security will help us develop facilities that our coaches and young players deserve, and also help us attract the very best talent in south London. The development work will begin in earnest in 2019.
Our focus will also be on improving your Selhurst Park matchday experience even further. You may be aware of the Visit Football awards, which are run in conjunction with the Premier League. When I arrived at the club, we were ranked bottom for the matchday experience we provide for supporters. Over the years we’ve climbed that table through a concerted effort to improving our service to you, whilst maintaining Selhurst's unique charm. They recently informed us that we’ve risen to fourth place in the rankings, and even won the “Extra Mile Award” for the second year running.
Catering on a matchday remains a real challenge because everyone wants to grab something to eat and drink just before kick-off, and in a tiny window at half-time. So we’ve been trialling a new food and drink pre-order service in the Main Stand via our app, which has cut down queuing times. We will also be making our concourse bars mainly cashless to help quicken up the queues further, so make sure you bring a credit or debit card! We’re also looking to enable your tickets to be synced to the app so you will be able to enter Selhurst using your phone, as well as trying to improve your mobile phone reception. It really never stops!
We are going to be doing even more in local schools to help inspire a new generation of Palace fans, and are also exploring a new ‘free’ Junior Membership for local children to take advantage of which will provide ticket access for new young fans.
Last, but by no means least, our singing section in the Lower Holmesdale will become a reality which I believe will further enhance the amazing atmosphere you create at Selhurst Park, and have an even greater impact on our team. There is tons to do across the whole club, and I feel as excited as I ever have to get cracking on with everything.
Up The Palace!