Notts Forest could leave City Ground



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Nottingham Forrest could quit City Ground Image: City Ground, mattbuck, CC BY-SA 3.0

Nottingham Forest F.C. could have a change of heart over redevelopment of their City Ground stadium because of a row with the local council over rent.

The BBC said the Premier League side could move away from the stadium if the row can’t be resolved.

The City Ground is a football stadium in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, England (UK), on the banks of the River Trent. It has been home to Nottingham Forest F.C. since 1898 and has a capacity of 30,455.

It is sited on land leased from the city council and there are only 33 years left on the current deal. Talks about an extension have stalled over the authority’s demands the current £250,000 rent is increased to about £1 million.

Forest, currently 17th in the Premier League, have said they need to extend the lease if they are going to invest in expanding the ground’s capacity. There have been discussions about the club buying the freehold on a permanent basis.

The council remains committed to further negotiations “to find the best way forward”, a spokesperson said, while Nottingham Forest chairman Tom Cartledge said unless there was “significant progress” they may have to “look elsewhere.”

Speaking to the BBC, Cartledge said: “We find ourselves in a position where for the first time we’re having to consider whether the future is going to be away from the City Ground.

“In the future, football clubs’ wage bills are going to be very heavily linked to revenue. If we can’t grow the revenue, there is a realistic chance we cannot achieve our objectives and grow the playing side and give the manager the resources he needs.

“Unless we start to see some significant progress, it is now having to be a realistic discussion point as to look elsewhere.

“I’m frustrated, the owner is frustrated, because what he wants to do is give back what he promised the people of Forest, which is growth on and off the field and not to be able to do that is tough.”

A spokesperson for Nottingham City Council said it had been in discussions with the club about options for the future.

The spokesperson said: “This includes retaining the current arrangement, negotiating a new lease, or potentially selling the freehold on a permanent basis.

“These latest talks, approved by the authority’s executive board in November last year, are ongoing and, by their nature, complex.

“The 2019 deal did not progress as it didn’t meet the council’s statutory obligation to achieve ‘best consideration’. The authority has now employed specialist agents to advise on the matter.

“We know Forest’s importance to our city and are extremely proud of their recent success – as we are with other sporting clubs like Notts County, the Panthers and Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club.

“We also have a statutory duty to ensure best value for taxpayers in finding an agreement which works for both the local authority and the club.

“The council remains committed to further negotiations to find the best way forward and has offered to continue dialogue. We understand Forest’s need for a swift resolution and their ambition for expansion which will bring benefit to the area and will work with them on a solution which meets their aims and our statutory responsibilities.

“Any proposed new terms or agreements would need to be brought back to executive board for consideration and approval.”

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