Thursday, 16 March 2017

Mike Norris, Rest in Peace

Sorry to learn of the death of Mike Norris, former Director of the football club and a supporter who stepped up in 1984 to lend his financial support towards saving the club from bankruptcy. 

Mike Norris was a Chartered Surveyor and property developer in the era when successful local businessmen had the sort of money that allowed a serious participation in football club ownership. Along with Richard Collins, John Fryer and John Sunley, Mike helped see off the serious threat of the club folding and helped set Lennie Lawrence up for a long-awaited return to top-flight football. Sadly, Fryer and Sunley had overseen the move to Selhurst Park in between these historic moments, although Mike will be most fondly remembered for his drive and money, along with Roger Alwen that lead us back to the Valley and in securing Sparrows Lane that played a major part in the subsequent development of the club which peaked during the Premier League years between 1998 and 2007.

Speaking about ownership of the club, a for sale sign appeared at the ground today amid rampant rumour that Duchatelet has finally had enough and is getting real about selling up. The signage may have been the work of supporters-in-jest but news that a secure Data Room has been set-up at the Valley and a lawyer engaged to manage access to key contractual and commercial documentation, necessary to support any due diligence, is a real sign that things are moving. Let's not get too excited just yet as we have some bitter experiences from the Zabeel deal to remember.

News too today that our next home match against MK Dons, a week on Saturday, has been postponed due to international call-ups and will now be played on Tuesday 4th April. That means we face Sheffield United away and Peterborough away before then and there is an opportunity for those below us to apply the squeeze as they play games in hand and get one up on us ahead of the revised fixture. This could back-fire on us if we end up playing with more pressure on the team but I guess it means we are likely to have a slightly stronger starting eleven given the inclusion of internationals and more time for injured players to recover. A relegation start for new prospective owners doesn't bear thinking about but I am sure any buyer will factor that into the sale price.

'Relegation' reminds me that we still haven't seen de club's latest masterplan to avoid another huge slump in remaining season ticket numbers. Some are excitedly speculating that a sale is so close that they don't want to bother with the grief and embarrassment of having to pitch it once again and are leaving it for the new owners. Personally speaking I am sure that the threat of relegation is a far better explanation and that they are keen to hang on as long as possible and pump it out when we might look more secure. Trouble is, I am not convinced we will look any better after the next two aways. They might need to factor in a 'what-if' pricing scenario. That would be really embarrassing for a Chief Executive with any conscience, self-awareness or humility. Luckily, Meire doesn't have any of those so will just need to offer up a confident whopper - she could say she's learnt from her mistakes and that we are in a better position since she arrived and that the table proves that. Something like that anyway.

Finally, congratulations to Esri Konsa for his call-up to the England U20's. He will join Everton starlet Ademola Lookman, who can tell him all about the life that awaits once he makes the move in the close season. Roland Duchatelet will also be toasting the additional transfer fee that England representation will demand.

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