Nottingham City Council make Nottingham Forest City Ground accusation and 'highly unusual' claim

Nottingham Forest's City Ground
Nottingham Forest's City Ground -Credit:Getty

Nottingham City Council say they are willing to work with Nottingham Forest to find a solution to the City Ground row - but they have put the ball in the club’s court.

Forest are considering relocating to a new site amid a dispute with the council - who own the land where the City Ground is situated - over rent and a new 250-year lease. The existing lease has just 33 years left on it and the council are said to want to increase the rent from £250,000 to £1 million.

Talks between the parties have stalled and chairman Tom Cartledge said the Reds “continue to be frustrated” by the situation. In an interview with The Athletic, he said the club had only spoken to junior officers and nobody from the council was trying to “start the relationship again”.

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The council have responded to the claims. They argue it is the club who have not shown a willingness to negotiate of late.

A spokesperson for Nottingham City Council said: “We’re proud of Nottingham Forest’s history as two-time winners of the European Cup, and we recognise the positive attention, visitors and income this has brought to the city over the past five decades. Getting promoted back to the Premier League in 2022, with the subsequent celebrations in Old Market Square, will live long in fans’ memories. We’re very lucky to have the successful sporting clubs we do in Nottingham, and so it’s disappointing to hear that Forest might be looking to relocate.

“The City Ground lease has been discussed for a long time now and it’s important to say again that the council remains committed to finding a solution which works for both parties. Unfortunately, we’ve had little back from the club recently by way of negotiation – this is highly unusual in a property transaction.

“We’ve been very clear with Forest that the council is legally bound by the need to seek best value for taxpayers – no local authority can subsidise a Premier League football club. We’re seeking market rate for the site, nothing more, which is in line with our statutory requirements.

“The council is ready to continue negotiations, but we can only do that if Forest come back with meaningful comparable evidence on their valuation of the site, which has been repeatedly requested. At present, we’ve simply been told what the club is not prepared to pay without a constructive way forward being proposed.”

Cartledge said Forest are “progressing due diligence” on “several” alternative sites as they consider moving. One of the sites they have looked at is Toton, at a location once slated for the now-scrapped HS2 project and on land owned by Nottinghamshire County Council.

He said: “Neither the leader of the council, the CEO nor any of the commissioners appointed by central government have reached out to the club. Nobody is knocking on the door. Nobody is trying to start the relationship again and say, ‘How do we find a way?’. And in the meantime, other councils and landowners are providing opportunities that we have to consider.”

He added: “The rent, if you add it up for the next 33 years, comes to about £9.5 million. The proposed rent the council wants us to pay over 250 years is more than £250m.

“So if we are talking openly about the Football Association’s desire for financial stability and the future of clubs to be secure, it is simply wrong for us to sign up and put this club in a position where we have to pay £250 million in rent to stay here.”

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