By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter
A Nottingham councillor says the authority could not afford a Notts County promotion celebration event because it would have cost tens of thousands of pounds.
The world’s oldest football league club landed a place in League Two following a play-off final win at Wembley in May, but Nottingham City Council came under scrutiny from fans after it failed to mark the event.
The council had put on a celebration event for Nottingham Forest the year before, when the Reds were promoted to the Premier League, leaving some Magpies fans feeling the council had not given their club fair treatment.
During a Communities and Environment Scrutiny Committee on December 6, the council revealed the Nottingham Forest promotion event had cost the authority £60,000, with the majority going towards security.
A similar event for Notts County would have also cost tens of thousands of pounds.
Documents from the meeting show the net budget for events has been reduced over time from around £500,000 in 2011/12 to just £56,000 in 2023/24.
A further Medium Term Financial Plan (the council’s budget over the next four years) saving of £33,000 is to be applied in 2024/25.
The council was further criticised for failing to put on a screening of the FIFA Women’s World Cup final in August, which featured the England.
A screening for the Men’s World Cup semi-final had been shown at Nottingham Castle back in 2018.
Cllr Neghat Khan (Lab) said: “If we could do it for Forest, why couldn’t we do it for one of our oldest clubs like Notts County?
“Also, one of the biggest bugbears of mine is the screening of the World Cup final. We can celebrate the men, this is the first time the women have got there.
“Previously we’ve had screenings of the men’s World Cup at the Castle. Do we not think this is a missed opportunity like Notts County?”
Responding Cllr Pavlos Kotsonis, the portfolio holder for leisure and culture, said: “Those were both things we obviously wanted to do, and they are both things that didn’t happen, so we are not happy with that. In fact, the leader has apologised for Notts County not happening.
“There were negotiations with Notts County after to try and do something different. Obviously this didn’t happen.
“What I will say is in terms of this year’s budget, it has been affected by a number of different factors. There is a base budget for some of the things we do like commissioned events. There is no base budget for extra stuff happening.
“And the envelope of time to negotiate some of those is not massive, because the news comes up late or we find out the night before.
“Because of all those restrictions it has been difficult to organise them.”
At the time the council said it was “delighted” for Notts County and it displayed a banner on the Council House in Old Market Square.
However Cllr Kotsonis said the current financial difficulties, which recently led to the issuing of a Section 114 notice, effectively declaring bankruptcy, prevented any further celebrations taking place.
“Our situation is difficult,” he added.
“We have seen a reduction from Government. It is significant.”
Councillors recommended the authority draws up a plan to better attract sponsors for events in the future, particularly amid the cancellation of Bonfire Night at the Forest Recreation Ground due to costs.
Cllr Kotsonis said: “[Sponsorship] is something we need to work on and it is something we need to get better at. There have been successes, but there are areas for improvement.”