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

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

Nottingham Forest are set to stay at the City Ground amid plans for the club to buy the land on which the historic stadium sits. Nottingham City Council's leader declared that "football is staying home" after announcing the agreement of principal terms with Nottingham Forest following months of dispute over the issue.

Speaking at a Council House meeting on Monday (July 8), Councillor Neghat Khan said: "Football is staying home, here in Nottingham, and the mist will keep rolling in off the Trent for years to come." The terms of the deal will be presented to a meeting of the council's executive board on July 16 and if eventually agreed, subject to legal contracts and due diligence, Councillor Khan says it will be a "historic day" for the club and city.

Councillor Khan confirmed that the deal will allow Forest to move forward with its "ambitious" expansion plans. 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.

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

Despite the new agreement, Councillor Khan said the council's position would be protected if Forest end up still 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."

There had 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 wanted 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 was always on the table from the very start of their negotiations with the city council.

Following months of public statements by Forest about the issue, including the possibility of them relocating to land at Toton previously earmarked for HS2, Nottingham City Council went public with its side of the story. The authority said at a meeting in May that Forest had not responded at that time to the council's latest offer to the club, made around two months earlier.

The new leader of the council, Councillor Neghat Khan, said after being elected in May that one of her first acts as leader would be asking for a face-to-face meeting with owner Evangelos Marinakis and chairman Tom Cartledge to "thrash out" the issue. Councillor Khan said at the time: "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." Progress quickly appeared to have been made, with Nottingham City Council issuing a joint statement with Nottingham Forest in June.

Councillor Khan added at Monday's meeting: "This is the result everyone hoped for... We understand this has been an uncertain time for supporters, but property transactions like this can often be long and complex."