New Nottingham City Council leader wants meeting with Nottingham Forest's Evangelos Marinakis over City Ground row

The new leader of Nottingham City Council Neghat Khan pictured at Nottingham Castle
The new leader of Nottingham City Council Neghat Khan pictured at Nottingham Castle -Credit:Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post

Nottingham City Council's new leader says one of her first acts will be asking Nottingham Forest's owner and chairman for a meeting to "thrash out" the dispute over the City Ground. Neghat Khan, officially confirmed as David Mellen's successor on Monday (May 20), says she will have to "work some magic" but wants to see Evangelos Marinakis and Tom Cartledge face to face.

There have been months of dispute over attempts to sign a new lease on the City Ground. Nottingham Forest's unveiling of a multi-million pound revamp plan for the City Ground in 2019 led the city council to consider the terms under which the club rents the stadium's land.

The city council, as the owner of that land, reportedly wants to increase rent from £250,000 a year to "north of a million." The option for Nottingham Forest to buy their stadium's freehold for £10 million has also been on the table from the very start of their negotiations with the city council.

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Speaking about the dispute, Councillor Khan said: "I definitely believe they should stay at the City Ground and one of my actions as the new leader of the council will be reaching out to the owner and the chairman and asking for a meeting to actually really thrash it out. What seems to be the problem?

"There's a lot of history at the City Ground. You can't just move. You go to a new stadium, it doesn't mean that history or that feeling, that atmosphere is there. We don't want them to go and the Forest fans don't want them to go.

"I've got to work some magic, but I think it's doable. That's one of my first acts as leader will be writing to the Forest chairman and the owner and asking for a meeting face to face and hopefully, at the end of it, shake hands."

A central part of the long-term vision is to increase the capacity of the Peter Taylor stand by knocking it down and rebuilding it. Plans also include improving and, in the case of the Bridgford Stand, extending the other three sides of the ground.

Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis
Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis -Credit:Getty

Once the major stadium work had been completed, Forest has also revealed plans for a 169-unit residential block near the existing Bridgford House apartments. It is the latter element in particular that the city council says changes the value of Nottingham Forest's current lease agreement, which has 30 years left on it.

Nottinghamshire County Council has confirmed that it has been approached by Forest to use land in Toton previously earmarked for HS2 as an alternative stadium site. The Conservative-led authority has just signed a 'memorandum of understanding' with Forest, which the council says will see it support the club's ambitions to "deliver new training and stadium infrastructure."

Mr Marinakis recently caused controversy by giving an interview to the Daily Mail in which he described Nottingham as having been lacking in ambition compared to other cities in recent years. Responding to this, Councillor Khan added: "I think that's what I've got to demonstrate to him and others, that we are an ambitious city and we're not going to just stop because we've got our financial problems. It's about opportunities and how we work together, so Forest will be a a key partner in that as well as will Notts County."