Nottingham Forest: City Ground sale will cause 'significant revenue loss' for City Council

Nottingham Forest's City Ground
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

Nottingham City Council has said it will suffer a "significant revenue loss" from the sale of the City Ground, but added that any other option would have risked Nottingham Forest leaving the site. The city council were being paid rent of £250,000 a year by Forest and following months of public dispute about the City Ground's future, an agreement in principle has been reached which will see the Premier League club buy the stadium's land from the council.

Although this will generate a one-off receipt for the financially struggling authority, it says that it will also result in big losses in the years to come given the lack of annual rent. Yet detailed papers released on the deal reveal that Forest's purchase of the City Ground's freehold was the only option it was willing to accept, aside from potentially leaving the stadium.

The threat of a Forest relocation came about early on in the public dispute between the club and council, with land previously earmarked for HS2 in Toton being repeatedly mentioned. The dispute centred on Forest's plans to expand and redevelop the City Ground, with the city council arguing that the rent should therefore be increased to "north of a million."

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The dispute has now been resolved after Councillor Neghat Khan, Nottingham City Council's leader, announced at a meeting on Monday (July 8) that the freehold purchase had been agreed in principle. The deal will have to be approved by a meeting of the council's executive board on July 16 and papers being presented at that meeting spell out what comes next.

In terms of why the freehold option was chosen despite the revenue loss it will cause for the council, the papers say: "The tenant [Forest] has made its position clear that it would only wish to proceed with acquiring the freehold interest." The city council says it will use reserves to "manage the pressure created" by the City Ground sale, with the authority saying it has enough money to cover the annual revenue loss.

The council also says that it will employ external specialists to advise on the sale to make sure that the authority is getting best value out of it, is completing the sale in a timely manner and making sure that measures to mitigate risks are taken. The council says it wants to work on the deal "at pace", with the executive board papers suggesting that the sale will be completed before the end of this current financial year in spring 2025.

READ MORE: Nottingham Forest set to remain at City Ground as 'historic' deal for sale of land agreed

Despite the new agreement, Councillor Khan has also said the council's position will be protected if Forest end up deciding in future that they want to leave the City Ground. The city council leader said: "The council and club have agreed that measures will be put into the sale contract which will protect the council's position in the highly unlikely event that the club should choose to relocate from the City Ground in the future."

A central part of the long-term vision for the City Ground 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. Once the major stadium work had been completed, Forest plan to build a 169-unit residential block near the existing Bridgford House apartments.

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