Steve Parish had delivered a speech to the throng gathered in a function room at the Corinthia hotel in Whitehall Place on Monday evening, those present breaking away from the Champagne reception as the Crystal Palace co-chairman considered what is to come.
His rhetoric reflected the giddy scenes at Wembley earlier in the day, smiles of disbelief still plastered across the faces of all present as they pinched themselves at promotion, with his message very much that the club would "give it a right go" in the Premier League next season.
There were a few mischievous jokes doing the rounds, perhaps inevitably given the presence of the likes of Eddie Izzard and Neil Morrissey in the audience. Suited and booted guests pulled Aaron Wilbraham's leg by claiming the guaranteed influx of £140m will allow Palace to lure a Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or, strangely, Emmanuel Adebayor to bolster the forward line. Surely the journeyman forward plucked on a free transfer from Norwich would not object to that?
Wilbraham, exhausted from his endeavours, laughed along with the mickey-takers, but the tone of Parish's missive did not suggest Palace are about to lose their heads. He spoke of creating "a culture and environment" where staff and players can thrive. This club has seen far too much bust and precious little boom in recent times. This will be different.
Since buying the club out of administration in 2010, Parish, Steve Browett, Martin Long and Jeremy Hosking have instigated constant, steady progress off the pitch, working with their managers to instigate remarkable improvement on it. Theirs has been a shrewd, long-term vision, and that will not change. Promotion can accelerate the entire process, particularly in terms of redeveloping Selhurst Park with a large proportion of the monies that have effectively been generated overnight – even if they will only be delivered over time – earmarked for the revamp of a tired stadium. This is a new world given the recently adopted £5.5bn television deal will guarantee £63m to the Premier League's bottom club next season, with a further £59m in parachute payments due over the following four years. If Palace were to succumb at the first attempt, they would still be able to plough upwards of £40m into rebuilding.
There is an acceptance that the squad will need surgery. The side who beat Watford cost a little over £2m to assemble with even Glenn Murray, the injured 31-goal forward, having arrived on a free transfer.
Mile Jedinak looks a top-flight midfielder already, the goalkeeper Julián Speroni is a consistent performer, and the hugely promising right-back Joel Ward is a Premier League defender in the making. Others, like the skilful youngsters Jonathan Williams and Yannick Bolasie, can prove their quality even if they will need to be treated with patience.
But many of the others are journeymen – deserving of a chance, but untried at the higher level – and there are six players out of contract this summer, some of whom will have to be retained, not least the Wales international Danny Gabbidon whose contribution in all three play-off games was near faultless. Kevin Phillips's loan from Blackpool expires later this week, but he has intimated he would be keen to prolong his career at the club.
The current wage bill equates to around £12.5m a year and, initially, the hierarchy had anticipated that rising to nearer £30m with arrivals and the award of new deals complete with relegation clauses. "The chairmen will look at the finances," said the manager, Ian Holloway. "I'll sit down with him to discuss it all in a week's time. It's about the quality you add, the players you've got and how much they want to prove to the world they can do it."
Parish will spend the next few days scrutinising the figures, calculating what constitutes an acceptable gamble in terms of outlay and what does not. "We need to make sure there's a [football] legacy from all this," he said. Certainly, Palace's transfer record, still £2.65m for Valérien Ismaël back in 1997, will be broken, but their approach will be more along the lines of that of a Norwich than a QPR. If £25m is available for transfer fees, then this should be a strengthening of the collective.
Palace will operate in a market where Holloway's former charges at Blackpool, Tom Ince, Charlie Adam and Matt Phillips, and Wigan's former Palace player Ben Watson, are obvious targets. There is interest in the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Jake Livermore. Stephen Dobbie will complete his permanent move from Brighton, while players with top-flight experience – Carlton Cole, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Stephen Hunt – will be available on free transfers on 1 July.
Holloway is, of course, playing catch-up not least because his best player, England's Wilfried Zaha, has already flown the nest. The man whose goals deflated Brighton in the semi-finals, and whose pace and skill induced the decisive penalty at Wembley, was a fleeting visitor to the post-match celebrations, staying for around 15 minutes before taking his leave. Zaha is departing with the club's blessing and going out on the ultimate high. Long and the manager have publicly expressed some hope he might be re-signed from Manchester United on loan, but David Moyes will want to assess the £15m forward first-hand, and this seems a natural time to split. Even if he ended up deciding the 20-year-old would benefit from more regular football away from Old Trafford, that decision would not be reached until well into pre-season.
Palace cannot afford to wait that long to unearth replacements. The Premier League fixtures are published on 19 June and, as Holloway detailed in his own speech at the post-match celebrations, this club is now "in the only place to be". By then, realisation will have dawned over what has been achieved.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © Mick Baker