New owners arrive, officially!

I think the wind was taken somewhat from the sails of today’s press conference by the eagerness of the Al Hasawi family to engage with fans, because not masses of new news really emerged as Abdulaziz, Fawaz and Omar Al Hasawi and their entourage welcomed the media officially in their capacity as Forest’s new owners.

Along with other fans not lucky enough to be granted a place amongst the 100 who got to meet the family, I did pop down to the ground to see a reasonable crowd form to greet the new owners and catch a glimpse of them. To say they look delighted to be here is an understatement – they could barely contain their glee at fulfilling what is clearly a long term ambition to be involved in English football.

Amongst the things that were raised, most have been covered before – sustainability is the aim of the game, there will be a plan – a risky 3-5 year timeline was placed on it, although of the aim of that timescale wasn’t clear beyond being in the Premier League. That, in truth, is what I wanted to hear – I don’t want outlandish targets and reckless investment – sustainability sounds good.

Other key things that were clarified:

Talks with managers will be happening from tomorrow – it would seem likely an appointment will be made mid next week. The Al Hasawis ARE using their influence to bring Kuwaiti players in on trial but for the manager to run the rule over. Glenn Hoddle was not under consideration (neither is Billy Davies according to a friend in the ‘meet the family’ event, despite misguided chanting for him by some of the gathered fans.

Moving is not a short term priority, the team and academy is. Longer term they are keen to engage with fans to establish the best way forward. Very pleasingly to me there seems to be a resistance to moving away from a central location. It will be interesting to see how that resolve remains after a few more encounters with Nottingham City Council! However, if we were to consider the wrench of moving from our home, then not ending up in a horrible edge-of-town retail park arrangement would make it a much better prospect.

Frank Clark
Frank as chairman was a favour to Nigel Doughty, it was never likely to remain post-takeover – but it’s great that he retains a position as ambassador and advisor to the new regime. Player, manager, chairman and now ambassador – that is very good indeed, I’m pleased he’s not simply moving on – he might get to hand out the Ferrero Rochers at functions now!

Mark Arthur
Stays. Despite more idiot comments from some of the fans directly to the Al Hasawis today (I mean, really?!). The family were vague about titles – they stressed they work as a team, so whether he remains as CEO or as an advisor or, well, who knows? It might not be the fashionable view but I’m actually pleased there’ll be some continuity in the leadership of the club. If things don’t work out then it would seem our new owners aren’t slow to be decisive.

The thing that really struck me overall was the realism – when probed about the Premier a league it was one of the Al Hasawi family who reigned things back and pointed out that we must first focus on getting promoted from this league. Absolutely bloody right, which is why they talk of managers with experience of this league – it is the press adding in the more outlandish sounding names, I’m sure. This reassures me massively.

So we don’t know much more than we did, but I got some real reassurance that the intentions of the owners are honourable. They seem to want to build sensibly, to develop for the future and be in it for the long haul – these early impressions are a great comfort to me as a naturally highly cynical Forest fan always looking for the next disaster to befall us. That might of course still happen, but my early impressions are good.

I don’t think we will be waiting long for news – the next piece of which should be the new manager, obviously quite a pivotal factor. Interesting times!