In 2010, Martin Long was just a businessman with a life-long love of Crystal Palace.

Four years on, he is now a co-owner at the club – a club looking ahead to a second consecutive season in the Premier League.

But it was touch and go whether he and the CPFC 2010 consortium would even buy the club, and then there was the small matter of saving it.

Now the 53-year-old can look back on the sleepless night as the Eagles have progressed beyond their wildest dreams.

He said: “We got the job in the first place in 2010 and just hung on in there.

“Getting promoted from the Championship was enormously important for the club because the financial rewards are very different.

“Last year we got £73.5m from the Premier League alone, and then we sold out most games so you get that extra revenue.

“It’s been an astonishing transformation, and my overwhelming feeling is relief.”

Talking about how the CPFC 2010 consortium came to fruition, Long admitted he was reluctant to be involved.

“I knew Steve Parish as a fan from away games, but I didn’t know Steve Browett or Jeremy Hosking at all.

“Steve rang me up saying can we have a chat and I was sat in my lounge when he said ‘What do you think about buying the club?’

“I said ‘No, I’d like to stay a fan thank you very much’, but we agreed after a couple of chats, if no one came in then we would buy it, but only if we can buy the ground as well for a certain figure.”

“Eventually the deal was done.

“We looked at each other and there was that wonderful feeling that we had saved the club, but a few minutes later we thought ‘Oh right, we own a football club’, then ‘Oh god what have we done?’”

He added: “The managing executive of Lloyds came into the room and said ‘I’ve got 500 hooligans outside, I can’t have that, just get that deal done’, and the lawyer signed the agreement.”

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The former Churchill insurance owner believes the deal has fostered a unity that now runs through the club.

He said: “Crystal Palace is the most aligned football club that there is. You’ve got the fans who support the club and will do all their lives, the players who understand what they are doing and play for each other.

“Then you have the management team all going the same way. Everyone is truly focussed on achieving the best for Palace.”

He added: “You also have the owners who are basically fans and all four groups are pulling in the same way.

“Normally football clubs have at least one group pulling the wrong way, but we all want the best for Palace.”

One group the club is trying to attract is the young fans, and Long has ideas on how to achieve that.

“It is like a family here. The staff have been there donkeys years, but we need to attract younger fans.

“But because we’ve had such little success relatively speaking, many youngsters support other clubs.

“It’s annoying when I go to East Croydon station and everyone is wearing a Chelsea shirt.

“It’s our job to make Palace more successful, reach out into the schools and community and make Selhurst a more welcoming place so that families want to come.

“There’s this enormous potential out there to tap into.”