Nottingham Forest contacts county council over possible stadium move

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Nottingham Forest has held talks with Nottinghanshire Council in case the club decides to quit the City Ground over a rent dispute with the city council.

The football club leases the stadium site from Nottingham City Council, and is unhappy with a proposed rent increase from £250,000 to £1m.

Early talks have been held with Nottinghamshire County Council to start the process of looking for alternate sites in case the disagreement can’t be resolved.

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The discussions were revealed on March 21 during a full council meeting, when political leaders stressed the need for confidentiality about the details discussed.

Nottingham Forest has held early talks with Nottinghamshire Council over a possible stadium move. Photo: SubmittedNottingham Forest has held early talks with Nottinghamshire Council over a possible stadium move. Photo: Submitted
Nottingham Forest has held early talks with Nottinghamshire Council over a possible stadium move. Photo: Submitted

Members passed a motion to continue exploring whether any council-owned sites which were surplus to requirements could be suitable.

Council leader, and Mansfield MP, Coun Ben Bradley (Con) told the meeting: “We all know how important Nottingham Forest is to the area, but it’s not our decision.

“The club has asked us ‘If we can’t find anywhere to stay, can you work with us to find an alternative?’

“We have exchanged correspondence.

Coun David Martin suggested council-owned land at Toton originally bought for an HS2 station, could be suitable. Photo: SubmittedCoun David Martin suggested council-owned land at Toton originally bought for an HS2 station, could be suitable. Photo: Submitted
Coun David Martin suggested council-owned land at Toton originally bought for an HS2 station, could be suitable. Photo: Submitted

"There is nothing more widely to discuss at this stage.

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“I fully expect Nottingham Forest to come to a resolution with the city council and this to go away.”

He dismissed speculation from the Independent Alliance group that discussions had been held in ‘smoke filled rooms’, saying Nottingham Forest was being treated the same as any other developer.

Coun David Martin (Ind), who proposed the original motion, suggested council-owned land at Toton originally bought for a HS2 station could suitable.

He said: “It would be a major boost for Broxtowe economies.

"People would still go into the city to stay and eat before heading to the stadium.

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“Whether you’re a football fan or not, the socio-economic benefits help everyone.”

Other councillors called for more transparency on the negotiations.

Coun Tom Hollis (Ash Ind) said: “Many businesses rely on selling pints, burgers and car parking spaces to fans, and they will be affected.

"If the club were to move, they need to help as much as possible with alternative locations.”

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Coun Keith Girling (Con) hit back at accusations that the council had been secretive.

He said: “This is commercially sensitive information – do you expect us to put it on Facebook?”

Labour abstained from the vote; their own amendment calling for public consultation hadn’t been included as officers said it changed the spirit of the motion.

Coun Michelle Welsh (Lab) said: “Fans will be lying awake at night wondering about the future. They feel like they’re not being listened to.”

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Forest have 33 years left on the City Ground lease, but want to extend it before investing in a long-planned stadium expansion.

Eight Nottinghamshire MPs have written to the city council expressing their concerns about the club’s move.

One of them, Hucknall MP Mark Spencer, said on Facebook: “I want to see Forest remain at the City Ground and hope the Labour-run city council come to their senses sooner rather than later.

"No matter what team you support, the huge economic benefit Forest bring to the area can’t be denied with many jobs depending on them.

A spokesperson for the city council recently said they remained committed to further negotiations.