Nottingham Forest set to stay at City Ground after new land deal agreed with council

Nottingham Forest's City Ground
By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter

Nottingham Forest look set to stay at the City Ground after Nottingham City Council agreed to sell the stadium’s land to the club, ending months of stalemate on its future.

The new land deal includes conditions to ensure the club stays at the City Ground “for a long time to come”, the council says.

It has been agreed by the two parties but not yet officially signed.

The iconic ground on the banks of the River Trent sits on land owned by the council, which is leased to the club on a long-term agreement.

But with only 33 years left on the current deal, talks on a new lease between the club and the council broke down earlier this year.

A fresh agreement is seen as critical for the club’s exisiting plans to redevelop the stadium, which would expand its capacity from 29,000 to 40,000 through the rebuilding of the Peter Taylor stand and extention of the Bridgford stand.

Negotiations collapsed after the council asked for a larger sum for the lease following Nottingham Forest’s promotion to the Premier League.

Reports suggested the authority was looking to increase rent from £250,000 to around £1m per year. Alternatively, it offered to sell the freehold to the site to the club.

Talks between the council and the club had since been at an impasse, leading Forest to say they were considering a potential move to Toton in Nottinghamshire to create a new 50,000-capacity stadium.

But speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service on Monday, July 8, Cllr Neghat Khan (Lab), the new leader of the council, said a deal to sell the land to the club outright has now been agreed in principle.

It will be subject to approval by the council’s Executive Board at a meeting held in public next Tuesday (July 16), meaning reports on the deal will be made public in the coming days.

“I’m pleased to announce we have agreed in principle the sale of the City Ground to Nottingham Forest, all subject to the Exec Board approval next Tuesday,” Cllr Khan said.

“It’s a great deal for Forest supporters, for the club and also Nottingham taxpayers. It now means we can focus our resources on tackling other issues we have. But this is a great news story.”

Forest first announced plans to expand the stadium, the club’s home since 1898, back in 2019.

However, a new land deal ultimately did not progress because the city council decided the amount did not meet its obligation to ensure it was getting best value for taxpayers’ money.

The council then declared effective bankruptcy in November last year amid a multi-million pound budget deficit, and Government commissioners were appointed in February to oversee critical improvements over how the council operates.

Commissioners will now be ensuring the council achieves the best value in all areas of its operations.

The sale of the City Ground land freehold has been approved by the commissioners, and has undergone independent valuation.

Cllr Ethan Radford, the deputy leader, said the deal also comes with conditions that the ground and club stays in the city.

“We are very keen that whatever comes out of the deal means that the ground stays in the city and that the club stays in the city,” he added.

“So the arrangement here would be that it would entrust the City Ground to the club. We will go from owning the freehold and being the guardians and custodians of the site to the club doing that.

“It is fantastic news for the fans that means it will stay here for a long time to come. It means as well that Nottingham Forest, whatever happens, will stay in Nottingham.

“Certainly it takes away a lot of head-space. It is something we won’t have to think about going forward.

“There is a lot we need to do. There are a lot of challenges ahead. This is a very quick win for the city council, for the city, the fans and the club, so this is something where we can close the book on and move to other things which are going to be far more challenging.”

The exact sale price of the land is not being disclosed, however, the authority says it will bring in a “significant capital receipt”.

Nottingham Forest have been contacted for comment.

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