Design & Development

Forest agree deal ‘in principle’ for City Ground freehold – council

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

Nottingham City Council leader Neghat Khan has announced that a deal has been agreed in principle for the sale of the land on which the City Ground sits to Nottingham Forest, although the Premier League club has clarified that it is continuing to work on the terms for a conditional deal.

Forest has previously detailed plans to expand the City Ground’s capacity from 29,550 to 40,000, but the club has been in dispute with the council over a lease deal for the stadium. The current 50-year lease was signed in 2011.

Forest has played at the City Ground since 1898 but the club has been considering building a new stadium in Toton, a village on the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border. In May, Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis told the Daily Mail that a new stadium would “set the club on the right path”.

Marinakis’ comments came after it emerged that Forest had been offered a deal to buy the land on which the City Ground sits for around £10m (€11.8m/$12.8m). The city council owns the freehold for the stadium site.

In a statement released yesterday (Monday), Khan said that the council had agreed “in principle” terms for the sale of the land. Khan said this would allow the club to press ahead with its plans to expand the stadium while securing a “significant capital receipt” for the council.

Khan added: “While it has been an uncertain time for supporters, property transactions like this can be complex and protracted. We’re legally bound to seek best value for taxpayers, and we feel that the deal now on the table satisfies that requirement, and also works for Forest.

“The sale is subject to formal approval by the Executive Board next week and the legal contract being finalised, but I feel this is the right decision for Nottingham and entrusts the future of this important asset to the club.”

Following Khan’s comments, Forest released a statement of its own to “clarify the situation” regarding the City Ground freehold.

“For absolute clarity, we continue to work on the terms for a conditional deal for the purchase of the freehold,” the club said.

“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.”

After the statement was released by Forest, Khan posted on X to clarify that while Nottingham City Council has a deal on the table with the club, the planning permission to redevelop the site sits with Rushcliffe Borough Council.

Rushcliffe Borough Council leader Neil Clarke has today released his own statement on the matter.

He said: “We will continue to work constructively with all partners. It is positive (that) 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.”