You wait ages for something to happen and then it all comes at once, and annoyingly in a week when both of us have been incredibly busy. With that in mind, we hand over to our correspondent Steven Toplis for his views on the new owners, in an article that was written before Steve Cotterill’s dismissal last week (on which, more soon):
Having been the place where so many rumours and conjecture were banded about in the last few weeks, it was Twitter where the Nottingham Forest takeover story was concluded.
At 7pm on Tuesday, Fawaz Al-Hasawi caught everyone by surprise when he announced via the social networking site that his family’s acquisition of the club had been successful, two weeks after the Kuwaitis had been granted an exclusive period of negotiation and due diligence began.
It is the news Reds supporters have been waiting to hear. For months fans’ forums and sites such as Twitter have been full of Forest fans speculating and poorly translating Tweets from Arabic to English in an attempt to garner some clues as to what was happening. Tuesday night’s events made things much clearer.
The Al-Hasawi family certainly seem to be saying the right things in their press statement issued late on Tuesday, which reads more like an open letter to the fans than your average press release, in which they state their pride in becoming the new owners of Forest and their intent to restore the club to former glories.
Fawaz recently stepped down as president of Qasdia FC, who have enjoyed great success in Kuwait recently whilst backed by the Al-Hasawi family. These are people who have a track record of success in football and are passionate about the game, which is an encouraging sign.
It is unknown exactly how much the family are worth or the amounts of money they are willing to invest into the club, but they are said to be some of the wealthiest people in Kuwait.
The main issue to address is the squad, as the departures of six out-of-contract players have left it even more imbalanced. Luke Chambers, Joel Lynch and Garath McCleary have all left and we only have two senior defenders on the books – Chris Gunter and Brendan Moloney – who are both right backs.
Rumours are that last year’s loanees Adlene Guedioura and George Elokobi could be on their way back to the City Ground permanently, which would be a good start. If fellow loanees Danny Higginbotham, Scott Wooton could also be brought in, then suddenly the squad will look much stronger. A few more new faces in wide midfield will also be required if Forest are to have a group of players ready to compete this coming season.
Hopefully the new owners will not resort to throwing large sums of money around to bring in ‘marquee signings.’ Leicester did this last year and ultimately failed to live up to the expectations placed upon them, which is proof that sometimes big spending from new owners does not guarantee instant success.
Instead it would be good to see the Al-Hasawis build the club up from the bottom, providing a stable financial footing to improve the infrastructure throughout. This will require patience from supporters and the owners themselves as new players are given time to gel and the squad as a whole is given an opportunity to develop. The manager should also need to be given time to build their team and put their ideas across.
Investment in the academy would be welcome as would some outlay on the stadium. The City Ground is in need of a spring clean and, in the longer term, work to possibly increase the capacity and improve its facilities.
There have been rumours that the Al-Hasawi family want to bring in their own man as manager, which would see Steve Cotterill exit the club. Reading through posts from fans across social media and forums, it seems as if many would be happy to see the former Portsmouth boss leave, slightly unfair perhaps after saving Forest from the drop into League One last season.
Cotterill has forged his reputation on guiding clubs through difficult times, so it remains to be seen whether he will be the man who is charged with the task of building a side to compete in the top ten of the Championship, something he has not done previously.
More importantly, this takeover secures the future of Nottingham Forest, which is a relief after a turbulent eight months. Now we can look forward with excitement and optimism at what the Al-Hasawi era will bring. It is a new start and an opportunity to build a club which is successful both on the pitch and off it.