BBC BLOGS - Chris Bevan
« Previous | Main | Next »

Goldberg aims to go from zero to FA Cup hero

Post categories:

Chris Bevan | 19:25 UK time, Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Mark Goldberg's place in football infamy is already pretty secure.

Allow me to refresh your memory if required - he is the Crystal Palace fan who blew a £40m personal fortune in a disastrous eight-month stint as Eagles chairman at the end of the 1990s, ending with the club in administration after being relegated from the Premier League and him being declared bankrupt soon afterwards.

But there is a footnote to Goldberg's tale, one of determination and passion for the game that ruined him. He might just earn a place in FA Cup folklore too, if his Bromley team can overcome Leyton Orient in the first round this weekend.

This is not about the boardroom anymore, because Goldberg is a manager now - and his rebirth is no flash in the pan either. Off and on in three different spells, he has been in charge of the Blue Square Bet South side for more than five years, long enough to show it is definitely in the dugout where his sporting ambitions lie.

Terry Venables

Goldberg brought former Palace boss Terry Venables back to Selhurst Park in 1998. Photo: Getty Images

"I am not cut out to be a chairman and I don't want to be handling the business side of football at all," says Goldberg. "I want to be involved tactically setting out my team against another, and working out during the game where my team can gain an advantage.

"There is nothing more inspirational for me than to have that challenge. Every game is like an adrenalin rush which is beyond what most people can really comprehend, and that's what I love."

He is at home at Bromley too. He was player-manager of the club's reserves aged 20 before his business career took off and, when it collapsed, he returned to run their youth team from every level from under-nines to under-19s "as a hobby".

It is obvious how much he enjoys it. He smiles, because he is about to make a financial analogy. "Management doesn't really cost you anything other than your health and, for someone like me, maybe that's what I need."

It is an understatement to say Goldberg's time at Palace was rather more expensive and he admits he learned some harsh lessons to go with some of the highs he experienced in his brief time at Selhurst Park.

His first mistake was failing to secure the freehold of the ground when he bought the club for £23m from Ron Noades, but he kept spending, mainly on lucrative and unrealistic contracts for playing and non-playing staff alike.

Terry Venables was paid £135,000 just for talks about becoming head coach before being handed an annual salary of around £750,000 to take the job, while a full-time doctor and nutritionist cost £100,000-a-year each and an agent was paid £448,000 for bringing across three Argentine trialists, only one of whom eventually signed.

Goldberg is proud of the deal he struck with Juventus which led to the Eagles' academy being affiliated with the Italian giants and also for bringing the first two Chinese players - Sun Jihai and Fan Zhiyi - to the Premier League, but saw his empire fall apart when other investors failed to materialise and his own money ran out.

"I did things that maybe Manchester United did afterwards," Goldberg says. He is laughing but is soon deadly serious.

"Unfortunately my ideas were too big for a club like Palace. I should have been more realistic but my heart was in the club and I wanted to make them great. It was just bigger than I was capable of doing.

"When I took over, I had built up a £200m recruitment business from scratch. I couldn't have been a complete idiot to have done that and to have made £40m of my own money which I was prepared to blow, and I did.

Mark Goldberg

Goldberg says he is more at home in the dugout than the boardroom. Photo: Ed Boyden

"I don't blame anyone else for it, it's my own fault. I just tried to get back up off the canvas and go again."

That is taking rather longer than it did first time around. He has been unable to rebuild his previous wealth, but says he sees that as a positive thing. "I don't look at the negatives," he explains. "What happened meant I was able to give my kids more of my time."

His daughter Lauren Rose, 21, is now a professional singer, while son Bradley, 18, inherited his father's sporting genes. A youth-team player at Charlton, he is on loan at Bromley and could play for the part-timers at the weekend.

Appropriately, seeing as his latest business venture is a recruitment website where contract workers can post their CVs, Goldberg sees the Orient match as a chance to show off his own managerial credentials, which include a promotion and two other first-round appearances, both of which ended in defeat.

"I don't get paid for what I am doing in football at the moment," Goldberg added. "I am doing it to try to get a track record so that one day I might get paid for it.

"I'm only 48 and in football management that is not old. What I'd love to do is secure the new business and my family for future years and be able to become a full-time football manager too."

Goldberg has ambitions for his club as well, predicting that average crowds of around 500 this season could go above 5,000 if he can get Bromley into the Football League. He wants to make his name in football for the right reasons and beating Orient would be a good start.

"I'm not saying we will get into the Football League but we are capable of doing it," Goldberg says. "Time will tell and, if not, we will still have fun trying.

"First things first, though, let's have a go at Brisbane Road on Saturday. I will be proud of the players if we are still in the game at the end and it is not a lost cause."

Follow me on Twitter throughout the season at


  • Comment number 1.

    Wonderful article Chris thanks. Great to see my local club getting some press and some recognition through the magic of the FA Cup, and I'm looking forward to the short trip to Brisbane Rd this weekend to see how they do!

  • Comment number 2.

    Fair play to Mark for coming back from such a disaster at Palace, good luck to you, but please, no ambitions to manage the Eagles one day ok lol

  • Comment number 3.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 4.

    I shall be supporting my local team Bromley this weekend!

  • Comment number 5.

    The figures don't quite add up. He had £200m...he lost £40m. He's still got £140m. He's hardly "on the canvas" with £140m in the bank is he ?

  • Comment number 6.

    Geesh......he built up a £200 m business.....i.e its value/revenue/turnover etc. of which he had derived earnings of £40 m in the period of time it was running..........

    And if what you said was correct, he would have £160 m not £140 m........

    No wonder the UK is in such a parlous state

  • Comment number 7.

    @ 5 you don't get declared bankrupt with 160m in the bank....I think you will find that's the value of the company as a whole, with the 40m his share

  • Comment number 8.

    @5 Oh dear, as many have pointed out the £40m was his personal fortune.

    Great article and while I have no allegience to either CP or Bromley, it shows that real football is still alive.

    Hope it works out for Goldberg as a manager, although he will need to show a lot more common sense than he did as a chairman.

    Clearly not a stupid man if he managed to build a £200m business, put football is not like any other business as he found out to his cost.

    Love an underdog however, so I'll be rooting for Bromley!

  • Comment number 9.

    Swansea fan here, Bromley are now my second team!!!What a character to overlook the negatives in his life and concentrate on the positives!!

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    @9 = I suppose if he has made a £40m fortune before, he is capable of doing it again, I don't doubt his new business has reaped rewards for him, albeit not in the region of £40m.

  • Comment number 12.

    You have to admire Goldberg for coming back from such a total disaster.

    You wonder how someone who did so well out of his recruitment business could get it so wrong when he bought Palace. Maybe he just follows a long line of successful people who leave their business brains at home when they buy a football club.

    He has done well at Bromly but League football is unrealistic I fear so close to Palace and with a ground a long way from League status.

  • Comment number 13.

    Maybe Mr Goldberg's football side of his business life that was declared bankrupt while his family fortune was tied up elsewhere.

    He's not daft, is he? This is a die-hard footie man. Well done Sir !!

  • Comment number 14.

    Bromley fans might even outnumber the Os :)


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.