First of all, sorry for the pun! Following weeks of speculation and endless rumours, Nottingham Forest are under new ownership. The Al-Hasawi family from Kuwait completed their purchase of the club from the estate of Nigel Doughty last night, bringing to an end all the conjecture and ushering in a new era for the Reds.
In a statement issued on Forest’s official website the new owners stated: “It is an honour and privilege for the Al-Hasawi family to assume control of this great club steeped in history and with the outstanding legacy left by its previous owner Nigel Doughty.”
News first broke just before 7pm when Fawaz Al-Hasawi posted on his Twitter account the takeover had been finalised. Less than an hour later, local journalists also confirmed the purchase as Forest fans everywhere were taking in the news they had all been waiting for.
It is unclear exactly how much the Al Hasawi’s are worth – or how much money they intend to invest into Nottingham Forest – but they are said to be one of the richest families in Kuwait and have a successful track record in football there. Fawaz Al-Hasawi is known to be a huge football fan and was president of one of the Middle East’s most successful clubs, Qadsia FC.
He resigned from his position in May, just as rumours began that Middle-Eastern businessmen were interested in purchasing Forest. Following confirmed interest by Fawaz and the rest of his family, at the end of June the Al-Hasawi’s were granted an exclusive period of negotiation to buy the club and due diligence was carried out. Two weeks down the line, the deal has been done and the future suddenly looks a lot brighter.
Pre-season preparations have been firmly on hold whilst everyone associated with Forest waited for news of the takeover. Several out-of-contract players left the club, including Garath McCleary, Joel Lynch and captain Luke Chambers, leaving the squad woefully short in some departments as they reported back for training on Monday. As it stands, the club only have two senior defenders on the books and both of them – Chris Gunter and Brendan Moloney – are right-backs. Young centre-half Jamaal Lascelles has been subject to a bid from Tottenham and could also leave, meaning a squad top-heavy with strikers and midfielders may become even smaller.
The sudden death of Nigel Doughty in January has seen Forest reign in their spending, struggling to find the funds to extend expiring contracts or make offers for new players. Manager Steve Cotterill has been unable to add to his squad, but it now seems as if the money will be there to do so.
However, with new owners come new ideas. In the past few weeks, there were rumours the Al-Hasawi’s were looking to recruit a new manager, with Neil Warnock supposedly on their list. Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson was supposedly approached by controversial ex-QPR chairman Gianni Paladini on behalf of the family, but such reports were soon denied. Former Wolves manager Mick McCarthy has also been linked, along with Reds legend Stuart Pearce.
There are many Reds supporters who would be glad to see the back of Steve Cotterill, with some making their feelings known recently on social media and fan forums. Having kept Forest in the Championship last season it would perhaps be harsh if the former Portsmouth boss was shown the door, but he is known as a manager who is more used to steering clubs through difficult periods rather than building sides aiming for promotion. New-found wealth will undoubtedly raise expectations at the club and it remains to be seen whether Cotterill is the man to live up to those.
Aside from player recruitment or potential new managers, the most important thing is that the future of Nottingham Forest looks to be secured. The club is now in the hands of wealthy businesspeople who are passionate about football, which is promising. In their statement the Al-Hasawi’s go on to say: “We look forward towards a successful future. You can be assured of our best efforts in bringing the Reds back to the top of the table.”
Encouraging words indeed.
Written by Steven Toplis, We Are Going Up podcast member and Nottingham Forest blogger
Steven tweets at @steven_toplis