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Selhurst Park is a Britishmarker football stadium located in the Londonmarker suburb of South Norwoodmarker in the Borough of Croydonmarker. It is the current home ground of Crystal Palace Football Club, of which Simon Jordan is chairman. Its present capacity is 26,309, making it the 31st largest stadium in English football.

History

In 1922 the site, a former brickfield, was bought from the Brighton Railway Company for £2,570. The stadium (designed by Scottish stadium architect Archibald Leitch) was constructed by a Humphreys of Kensington (a firm regularly used by Leitch) for around £30,000, and was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of London on 30 August 1924. There was then only one stand (the present Main Stand), but this was unfinished due to industrial action; Crystal Palace played Sheffield Wednesday and lost 0-1 in front of 25,000 fans.

Two years later, in 1926, England played Wales in an international at the stadium. England amateur matches and various other finals were also staged there, as were other sports including boxing, bicycle polo (in the late 1940s) and cricket and music concerts (in the 1980s). In addition to this, it hosted two games for the 1948 Summer Olympics.

In 1953, the stadium's first floodlights were installed consisting of numerous poles around the 3 sides of terracing and four roof mounted installations on the Main Stand, but were replaced nine years later by floodlights mounted on four pylons in each corner and six installations on the Main Stand roof. Real Madrid marked the occasion by playing the first game under the new set of bulbs - a real footballing coup at the time for third division Palace, as it was Real's first ever match in London.

The ground remained undeveloped until 1969 when Palace were promoted to Division One (then the 1st tier of English football) for the first time. The Arthur Wait Stand was built, and is named after the club's long-serving chairman, who was a builder by trade and was often seen working on the site himself. Arthur Wait was notable for overseeing Palace's rise from the 4th to the 1st Division in the 1960s. The Whitehorse Lane end had a new look with a "second tier" of terracing and brick-built refreshments and toilets along the top.

Due to the Safety of Grounds Act, the Holmesdale Road terrace (or the Kop as it was known) had to be split into three sections for safety reasons and this meant the poor facilities fell in the away part. So new facilities were built at the back of the other two parts. In the Summer of 1981, the Main Stand terraced enclosure was re profiled and replaced by seating.

In 1981, Palace sold the back of the Whitehorse Lane terrace and land behind to supermarket retailer Sainsbury's for £2m, to help their financial problems and the size of the terrace at this end was effectively halved when this end reopened.

Charlton Athletic moved in as temporary tenants in 1985, and became with Palace the first league clubs in England to agree such a ground-sharing scheme. In the Summer of 1990, the lower half of the Arthur Wait Stand was converted into all-seater with the assistance of Football Trust Grant Aid, due to the Taylor Report following the Hillsborough Disaster. Two rows of executive boxes (48 in total) were constructed above the Whitehorse Lane terrace on the roof of Sainsbury's supermarket in 1991 and it was roofed and it was made all-seater in the summer of 1993.

Charlton moved back to The Valleymarker via West Ham's Upton Parkmarker, and Wimbledon F.C. replaced them as tenants in 1991. The Holmesdale terrace was demolished in 1994 and replaced a year later with a two-tiered 8,500 capacity stand. The roof cladding of the main stand was also replaced, the previous one having started to leak.

When Mark Goldberg bought Crystal Palace, he bought just the club and former Palace chairman Ron Noades retained Selhurst Park. Chairman Simon Jordan took out a ten year lease on the ground upon his purchase of the club in 2000 and Noades received rent from Palace. Wimbledon F.C. relocated to Milton Keynesmarker in 2003, their fans already having decamped to the newly established AFC Wimbledon in protest when the old club were given permission by the FA to move in 2002.

Palace chairman Jordan stated he had completed a purchase of the freehold of Selhurst Park from Altonwood Limited (Ron Noades' company) for £12m in October 2006. In fact as at January 2008 the ownership of the ground is held by Selhurst Park Limited, owned by a joint venture between HBOS and the Rock property empire owned by Paul Kemsley, a former director of Tottenham Hotspur. In April 2008 a 25 year lease was granted to Crystal Palace an an annual rent of £1.2m. When the Rock group went into administration in June 2009, the management of the freehold was taken on by PwCmarker acting on behalf of Lloyds Bank which nows own HBOS. PwC expect to sell it within two years. Simon Jordan never owned the freehold or had any interest in it and his reasons for claiming he had bought it are unknown.

Attendance

Average

Season Average Attendance League Reference
2008–09 15,220 Football League Championship
2007–08 16,031 Football League Championship
2006–07 17,541 Football League Championship
2005–06 19,457 Football League Championship
2004–05 24,108 Premier League
2003–04 17,344 Football League First Division
2002–03 16,866 Football League First Division


Records

The record attendance in Selhurst Park was achieved in 1979, when 51,801 people saw Crystal Palace beat Burnley F.C. 2-0 to clinch the Football League Second Division championship. The ground also holds the record for Division Four (now League Two in the English football pyramid) attendance, when Crystal Palace played local rivals Millwall F.C. in 1961 after 37,774 people turned out.

The ground also holds the English football record for staging the game seen by the greatest amount of people. This was for the club debut of the first Chinese footballers to play in English football, Sun Jihai and Fan Zhiyi in 1998. Most of that audience was recorded to be watching on television in Chinamarker.

See also



References

  1. PwC kicks off sale of Kemsley’s trophy assets, The Times, 20 October 2009


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