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REVIEW: 'Be careful what you wish for' by Simon Jordan
I SUSPECT Simon Jordan is more likely to win an Orange prize for the tan than his book – this was my first reaction when I heard the former Crystal Palace chairman had penned an autobiography.
A cheap gag (unlike the book, which at £18.99 certainly isn’t cheap) at the expense of a colourful (no orange pun intended Si) and outspoken man who has never struggled to generate criticism.
Joking aside, personally I’ve always liked him and still do even if I have a few criticisms of ‘Be careful what you wish for’ which despite my initial scepticism about being nothing more than a money making exercise, actually turned out to be a very good and entertaining read.
Football is a world over populated with dull yes men but Simon was certainly never one of them during his 10-year reign as owner of Crystal Palace.
His consistent line on football agents being nothing more than freeloading parasites is to be applauded even if it was to cost Palace the chance to bring in Tim Cahill from Millwall in 2004, a signing which would surely have seen them stay in the Premier League had it gone through.
Simon’s take on that deal in the book is Cahill’s representatives were never really serious about their client joining the Eagles and were just using them to get a better deal from Everton.
Perhaps, although I suspect the author might be taking a revisionist view on this, something I feel he has also done with several of the individuals who end up getting it in the neck.
Ex-Selhurst manager Iain Dowie and current Crystal Palace chief executive Phil Alexander are probably the main two who will feel most aggrieved in this respect as both are right royally slaughtered by their former boss.
Dowie transformed Palace from a side sitting just above the relegation zone on his appointment in late 2003 to one which went up via the play-offs to the promised land of the Premier League within five months.
Despite this, Simon claims the relationship he had with Dowie was always strained and even moans at the former manager for taking the mic off him at a post play-off final victory party when the chairman was keen to enjoy his moment in the spotlight and take the plaudits.
It all seems a bit petty, but as the two were to fall out later on over Dowie’s switch to Charlton it might explain why Jordan is keen to paint him in a less than flattering light.
At one point Jordan mentions Dowie’s dad having been a big noise in a trade union, using this point to insinuate his son was a chip off the old block who would happily go into battle with his boss at the drop of a hat.
Simon even says he considered sacking Dowie in the summer of 2004 so bad had their working relationship become.
Of course he didn’t and this is my point – it is easy to paint a bad picture of someone after you have fallen out.
The same applies to Alexander, someone who Jordan was happy to keep on the payroll during his time in charge of the club and yet who is now portrayed in the book as being far from loyal to his boss once Palace hit major financial problems in the 2009-10 campaign.
Presumably the chairman could have dispensed with the chief executive’s services at any time during the previous decade if he had really wanted to.
Again, he didn’t and actions speak louder than words.
Those are the moans – the reality is there is a lot more to like about Simon’s book than dislike.
It is certainly a tale of why not to get involved in football as the author’s rise from the man who took Palace out of their first spell of administration in 2000 to the man who ultimately took them into the second one a decade later is charted.
Simon earned his fortune by selling the PocketPhone shop and then investing his new found wealth in the football club he grew up living next door to as a kid.
What shocked me most was how easily large sums of money were squandered on transfer deals for players who would ultimately prove to be a complete waste of money.
There is no point in me even mentioning any individual ones here as there are literally so many of them.
Complete madness, but then that is football and perhaps the reason Simon is so glib when mentioning the financial figures involved is to demonstrate how easy it is to part with cash if you own a football club.
Jordan’s problems at Palace really started when he claimed he had purchased Selhurst Park from former club owner Ron Noades through a third party, similar to the way he had taken control of the Eagles in 2000 via Jerry Lim.
It soon became clear the ground was not his after all and this, combined with the worldwide global economic collapse in 2008 which saw Jordan’s Spanish property portfolio take a major hit, ultimately placed a major question mark over Palace’s future.
Simon’s initial reaction was to keep pouring cash into the club but with so many people chasing his money, and one particularly hostile creditor in the shape of Agilo, it eventually became too much for him to deal with and Palace were eventually put into administration at the request of Agilo.
The book makes clear that Simon and his advisors were convinced up until the last minute Agilo were bluffing and administration wasn’t going to happen, compounding the shock for the now former owner when it actually did.
Palace, who were eighth in the table at the time and with realistic ambitions of securing a play-off spot, were immediately plunged into a relegation battle after being hit with a 10-point deduction and ultimately only beat the drop on the final day of the season with a draw at Sheffield Wednesday.
By this time the entire future of the club was in major doubt and was only secured when Simon was forced to accept a Creditors Voluntary Agreement which saw him receive 0.5p for every pound he had spent on the club.
In other words, his £35m became £175,000. Ouch.
By this stage Steve Parish was firmly on the scene as a perspective future owner and Simon speculates he could have gambled by refusing to sign the CVA, forcing Parish and his backers to make a better offer.
He didn’t and even claims he isn’t bitter about what happened to him.
Few would blame him if he was, and I’m not convinced he still isn’t bitter judging by the way he slates Alexander.
Regardless, he and Palace have moved on.
Inevitably after what happened, it is fair to say Simon isn’t exactly as popular as he used to be with Crystal Palace supporters.
How many of them will be prepared to buy this book remains to be seen.
I’m not a Palace fan but I would strongly suggest they do, if only to give the man who kept them ticking over for 10 years at great personal expense the chance to put across his side of the story.
In his book Simon mocks the fact there were piles of unsold copies of Neil Ruddock’s autobiography gathering dust in the club shop after his brief and unsuccessful playing career at Selhurst came to an end in 2001.
It seems a shame if the same was to happen to his own book, although I somehow doubt the current Crystal Palace chief executive would give the green light for ‘Be careful what you wish for’ to be sold on club property!
* ‘Be careful what you wish for’ by Simon Jordan is published by Yellow Jersey Press and is priced £18.99.
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