Nottingham Forest's City Ground future: What we know and what's been said so far amid 'deal' talk

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

Nottingham Forest’s City Ground future is in the spotlight again after the latest round of twists and turns. The saga has dragged on for some time, encompassing the Reds’ plans to redevelop the stadium, a dispute between the club and Nottingham City Council and a proposed relocation.

Earlier this week, it appeared that a conclusion was on the horizon, but it seems the story still has some way to run. Forest fans will be hoping the situation is sorted soon. They are keen for the Reds to remain at their home of 125 years, the City Ground of Clough, Taylor and European triumphs. However, the club is looking for certain assurances as they seek to take the stadium into the 21st century...

NottinghamshireLive has taken a look at what we know so far... and what could happen next.

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The story so far

To recap, there has been a standoff between the club and the City Council - who own the land the stadium sits on - over rent and a new lease. Forest’s current lease on the City Ground has 33 years left to run and talks about a new 250-year one hit a stalemate. The council were said to want to increase the rent from £250,000 to £1 million.

That led to uncertainty over whether the Reds would remain at the ground they have called home for the past 125 years. Owner Evangelos Marinakis and chairman Tom Cartledge both spoke earlier this year about the possibility of building a new stadium elsewhere, with Toton identified as a potential option.

Read more, here.

The current situation

On Monday afternoon, Nottingham City Council announced an agreement in principle with the club had been reached for the Reds to buy the freehold of the land the stadium sits on. It appeared a significant step had been taken towards Forest staying put on the banks of the Trent.

The council made clear the deal had not been fully ratified and it would be put to the council’s executive board for a decision on July 16, but the signs were promising. However, Forest responded by saying any decision to buy the freehold would be dependent on the club being granted planning permission for their “hugely ambitious plans” to redevelop the ground.

What the City Council have said

A statement from Councillor Neghat Khan, leader of Nottingham City Council, issued on Monday afternoon on X said: "I am proud to announce that talks with Nottingham Forest have resulted in principle terms being agreed for the club to buy the land on which the City Ground sits. I promised decisive action to secure the future of the world-famous City Ground, which has been home to Nottingham Forest for over 125 years, and that is what we have delivered. 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 the council's executive board for a decision on July 16. If agreed, subject to legal contracts and due diligence, this will be a historic day for the club, for the fans and for our city. This is the result everyone hoped for.

“It will allow the club to move forward with its ambitious plans to expand the stadium while also securing a significant capital receipt for the council. 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.

"We understand that this has been an uncertain time for supporters, but property transactions like this can often be long and complex. We are legally bound to seek best value for our taxpayers, and we feel that the deal now on the table satisfies that requirement and works for Forest, entrusting the future of this important asset to the club.

"The council is incredibly proud of our sporting heritage here in Nottingham and the great work the clubs do in engaging with our communities. They are woven into the fabric of our city, and we wish them every success on and off the pitch. As for Forest, we hope this deal helps them realise their ambitions and, following on from Thursday's (general) election result, many more victories for the team in red."

What the club have said

On Monday evening, Forest responded with a statement of their own. It said: “After today’s comments from the leader of the City Council, the club wishes to clarify the situation for supporters and stakeholders regarding the freehold for the City Ground.

“For absolute clarity, we continue to work on the terms for a conditional deal for the purchase of the freehold. Any decision to purchase the freehold will be entirely conditional on Nottingham Forest first being granted the relevant permissions that will allow us to realise our hugely ambitious plans for a significantly larger stadium capacity, world-class hospitality spaces and associated substantial real estate development in the vicinity of the ground. Our discussions remain confidential and the Club will update fans when meaningful progress has been achieved.”

What has been said since

Forest first announced plans to redevelop the City Ground in 2019. The project took a major step forward in 2022 when Rushcliffe Borough Council finally gave approval for the scheme to go ahead.

With that in mind, responding to Forest’s statement on Monday evening, Rushcliffe Borough Council outlined their own stance on Tuesday morning. They posted on X: “Our Leader Cllr Neil Clarke said, ‘We will continue to work constructively with all partners. It is positive Nottingham Forest and the City Council are continuing discussions, and like all commercial negotiations, details remain confidential until finalised. We granted Nottingham Forest planning permission for their latest planning application to extend ground capacity and associated development in 2022 and should any further plans come forward these will go through our usual independent planning process.’”

By this point, Cllr Khan had already said: “For clarity, following @NFFC's statement: the land the City Ground sits on is owned by @MyNottingham. We have a deal on the table. The planning permission for the club to redevelop the site sits with @Rushcliffe. I have no say in this decision.”

Read more on Forest’s City Ground redevelopment project, here.

What we have said

'Wherever I may go, wherever I may roam, you won't ever change the way I am'. For those of a Nottingham Forest persuasion unfamiliar with these words, they once hung from the Trent End during one of the many spectacular pre-match displays the Forza Garibaldi supporters' group have treated us to over the years, writes NottinghamshireLive’s Jamie Barlow and Lewis Rudd.

This one in particular took place before a Championship game with Birmingham City back in August, 2018 (A 2-2 draw and an 87th-minute Daryl Murphy equaliser, if you're asking). A move to Toton and playing outside of the city boundary just wouldn’t have sat right, and would have threatened to lose the tradition and soul the club is built on. So that message, unfurled on the Trent End back in 2018, feels all the more poignant now.

Read the full comment piece, here.

What fans have said

Reds supporters made their feelings clear when talk of relocating to Toton emerged earlier this year. In the final home game of last season, chants of “stand up for the City Ground” and “Toton's a s***hole, I want to stay here” rang out.

Fans have had their say on the latest developments, too. Below is a look at supporters’ response to Forest’s statement on Monday evening.

Dan: Just get it done. It's what the fans want.

Ash Young: No point buying the land if they won’t let us build. Totally understand it. They must be fuming with them going public. Keep plugging away. We will get there.

Paul: Great position by the club. Freehold without permission to build the stadium we need would be a massive chain around our necks.

Joe: Will only be worth purchasing if we can expand, otherwise no point. Fair play forest.

Jim: Fully agree, Forest. All parties aligned and agreed or no deal (well conditional deal!)

Will H: Makes complete sense and hopefully we get the permission

ForestRav: Purchasing the freehold without guarantees regarding building permissions wouldn't make much sense. A deal isn't done until both parties are happy to sign.

Worcester Red: This is smart from Forest. Council jumping the gun. We obviously want the full package to include accepted plans on all the work to be done. Not buy the land then council to play hard ball.

What do you make of the City Ground situation? Click HERE to have your say