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Design & Development

Forest owner says new stadium will ‘change history’ of club

Featured image credit: John Sutton/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size

Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis has said that a new stadium will “set the club on the right path” amid continued talk over a move away from the City Ground.

Forest has played at the City Ground since 1898 but the club has warned that it could look to relocate amid a dispute with Nottingham City Council over the lease deal for the stadium. The current 50-year lease was signed in 2011.

Forest is considering a plot of land in Toton, a village on the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border, for a new 50,000-seat stadium. The land is owned by Nottinghamshire County Council, which in March backed a motion to continue to explore potential stadium options with Forest. A Memorandum of Understanding is expected to be agreed with the club.

Yesterday (Monday), it emerged that Forest has been offered a deal to buy the land on which the City Ground sits for around £10m (€11.6m/$12.6m), with Nottingham City Council said to be “very happy” to negotiate with the club.

Marinakis has now spoken out on the matter, confirming his desire to build a new stadium rather than stay at the City Ground.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Marinakis said that Forest’s stadium and training ground are “not befitting the status and ambitions” of the club, adding: “It (a new stadium) will change the history in years to come of the region and the team for our supporters.

“It will be hard to leave the City Ground but in an age when revenue streams dictate success on the pitch, there’s no doubt moving to a bigger facility will set the club on the right path.

“Over the last 10 years, the city of Nottingham has lacked the confidence and ambition of the other big regional cities of Manchester and Birmingham. Nottingham needed a new leader to be brave, ambitious, to invest and be honest.”

During Forest’s final home match of the season against Chelsea on Saturday, supporters chanted anti-Toton songs and expressed their desire to remain at the City Ground.

The club has previously detailed plans to expand the City Ground’s capacity from 29,550 to 40,000, which would see the Bridgford Stand extended by a further 5,000 seats, along with replacing the Peter Taylor Stand with a two-tier 10,000-seat structure.

The club believes it requires a longer lease deal to carry out this work. City council leader David Mellen told The Athletic this week that Forest has an option to buy the City Ground freehold as opposed to negotiating with the council, which would make it easier for the club to expand the stadium.

The Toton site, which is six miles from Nottingham city centre, had been due to host a rail hub serving the HS2 high-speed railway project, the Nottinghamshire part of which has been axed.