Nuno makes City Ground plea amid Nottingham Forest dispute with council

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

Head coach Nuno Espirito Santo says it would “never be the same” if Nottingham Forest move away from the City Ground.

The Reds are considering relocating to a new site amid a dispute with Nottingham City Council, who own the land the stadium is built on. There is an ongoing row between the parties over rent and a new lease.

A move would see Forest abandon plans, first announced in 2019, to redevelop the City Ground and increase its capacity. Chairman Tom Cartledge said this week that “due diligence” was being done on “several” alternative sites, including in Toton.

READ MORE: Nuno delivers warning as Forest not mathematically safe after defeat

READ MORE: How the Reds rated against Chelsea

Nuno said in March he hoped a solution could be found for the Reds to stay put. And he reiterated his stance in the wake of Cartledge’s recent interview.

"I hope it doesn't, it will never be the same, it will never be the same,” the Portuguese said. “The City Ground is so special. If they ask me, please don't, please don't City Council, let us be here.”

Asked if the disagreement between the club and the council meant another battle on the horizon, Nuno added: “We don't want that, we want peace, we don't want too much noise, let us be.”

Forest fans had already made their feelings clear during their side’s final home game of the Premier League season. They chanted ‘stand up for the City Ground’ and ‘Toton's a s***hole, I want to stay here’ during the 3-2 defeat to Chelsea.

Owner Evangelos Marinakis was in attendance at the City Ground. On Thursday, he had spoken about his dreams for Forest.

“I think we have achieved great things,” the Greek said. “Now you will see that we want to build a big stadium and a new training centre.”

Forest’s existing lease on the City Ground site has 33 years left on it and talks about a new 250-year one have hit a stalemate. The council are said to want to increase the rent to £1 million from £250,000.

That negotiations are said to have fallen through over a deal to buy land off the A52 for a new training ground has only added to the club’s thinking over potentially relocating. In an interview with The Athletic, Cartledge said the club are weighing up whether to follow in the footsteps of Manchester City and have a stadium and training ground on the same complex.

“The terms on that (training ground) project are prohibiting us, but other things have come forward that have given us time to think,” he said. “Where do we want to be? Where are those campuses where we can try to put all of this together in the way Manchester City have done?”

Nottingham City Council responded to Cartledge’s interview. They said in a statement: “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.”

What do you think about the City Ground situation? Have your say in the comments below