Exclusive: Crystal Palace co-chairman Steve Browett talks about his boyhood club, pinching himself and the future
Four years ago, Steve Browett was just a regular Crystal Palace fan with a wine merchant business.
But today he is not only the co-chairman of his boyhood club, he is one of four owners to have kept the club in the Premier League for more than one season for the first time in its history.
It is a true rags to riches story for both Browett and Crystal Palace, with the Farr Vintners owner having started out as a van driver, before setting up his own business, and then helping to rescue Palace from administration in 2010.
It has been a tumultuous four years, which saw Palace survive near extinction, win the Championship play-off final, and then defy the bookies to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
As Browett and I sit overlooking the Selhurst Park pitch, he can not quite believe the transformation the club has undergone.
The 54-year-old said: “You really have to pinch yourself. In 2010, it was much more likely that Palace would have been relegated to League One than be ever promoted to the Premier League.
“We’ve proved to a lot of people that you can actually be successful without risking everything.
“You can build up a football team in a sensible way that doesn’t risk going bust or doesn’t mean you rely on someone else’s money.”
Part of the success at Palace can be attributed to both co-chairmen’s willingness to communicate with the club’s fans, establishing unity throughout the club.
And Browett noted the special nature of this relationship with the fans, as well as around the boardroom table.
“It’s great that Palace are probably one of the most united clubs in football,” he said.
“In the boardroom, in the stands and everyone connected to the club at every level feels there is a unity and a common bond which a lot of clubs don’t have.”
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“I see Steve [Parish], Martin [Long] and Jeremy [Hosking] every week. We’ve got nothing in common with each other except for the common love of Palace but we get on very well.
“Steve is the most hard-working, driven person I’ve ever met. He is absolutely incredible and the whole thing would never have happened without his drive and determination.
“He’s a guy who never relaxes – he’s an inspiration and a fantastic bloke.”
He added: “Martin and Jeremy again are inspirations, they’re really clever people and successful people in other walks of life but again we’ve just got that common bond of being Palace fans.”
With an unprecedented second season in the top flight, Browett pulled no punches with an ambitious target for the club’s future.
He said: “Palace has been a sleeping giant for so. We had a brief moment in 1990-91, which is the only time really in our history when Palace has been a force, so it’s great to give people pride in their club.
“At the moment we are the dominant club in south London and the potential here is enormous, there’s no reason why in time we can’t be one of the biggest clubs in the country – why not?”