You can hear the cries from Croydon across the city (and maybe the gloats and cheers from Charlton to Millwall to Brighton): Crystal Palace have gone into administration, according to administrators P&A Partnership.
Fans can't say they haven't been warned. The signs have been there for a while: players not getting paid for some months in a row, and manager Neil Warnock pimping up the sale of his highly-rated young stars at any opportunity, to get some money flowing in. Sadly that time appears to have run out for the club. £30 million in the red, club representatives will go to court on Wednesday to face a wind-up order from HMRC.
Since last falling into administration in 1998, it's been a wild ride for fans: the purchase by Simon Jordan in 2000 which saved the club, a near-fall into the third tier in 2001, a meteoric rise to the Premier League in 2004, rumours of a buyout from Colonel Gaddafi. Lately it's been the gloom of perennial residence in the Championship, owned by a committed but penniless chairman and reliant on the ever-excellent products of the Youth Academy for any stab at promotion, which despite the financial difficulties they've been doing this season — the team are currently two points off the top six.
Or rather, they were: administration incurs an automatic 10-point deduction, which would drag the club from the shores of the playoff places down to the murky relegation-fighting end of the league. The knock-on effect on morale could push Palace into a difficult fight to cling on to their Championship status, which would further imperil the likelihood of finding a suitable buyer.