So. Crystal Palace’s survival in the Championship (what we used to call Division One, and before that Division Two – do keep up) will be determined by the outcome of our last game of the season – against the other relegation candidates, Sheffield Wednesday, at Hillsborough this Sunday.
We could have guaranteed safety by beating West Brom at Selhurst Park last night, but we could only manage a 1-1 draw, which under usual circumstances we would have thought a good result. These are not usual circumstances, though: the club went into administration in January and was docked ten points. Without the deduction, we’d have been basking in mid-table obscurity, like we do every other season.
As far as football goes, it hasn’t been a terrible season, you see. We’re not Portsmouth, which is why we still have a chance of staying up. Two chances, in fact: Wednesday are two points behind us, so a draw will be enough for us, whereas they need a win. When Portsmouth went into administration earlier in the season, they were docked nine points. Had our penalty been the same as theirs, last night’s draw would have been enough for us, because we’d be on 49 points to Wednesday’s 46, with a much better goal difference. They’d have needed to beat us by eighteen goals or more to stay up.
It’s OK, I’m not bitter.
As it is, if we are relegated this weekend the club’s unfortunate financial position means we’re unlikely to come straight back up again next year. We’ll become a third-tier club. It’s unthinkable! And that’s assuming the club survives at all, the alternative to which I’m genuinely not thinking about because it’s too horrible. But if it were to happen, the points deduction and subsequent relegation will have been the final nail in the club’s coffin, which rather makes me wonder what the purpose is of penalising already-struggling clubs in this way. After all, it’s the fans, not the the chairmen, or even the players, who stick around after the dust has died down and contemplate the mess that wasn’t of their making.
If you need me on Sunday, I’ll be hiding in a corner somewhere, feeling sick.