Rich Kuwaitis buy Nottingham Forest, Redknapp for manager?
Fans excited as 'mega-rich' Al-Hasawi family take over the once-great Forest
FANS of Nottingham Forest are dreaming of a return to the big time after the troubled Midlands club was bought by the "mega-rich" Al-Hasawi family from Kuwait. New owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi announced news of the takeover on Twitter last night when he told his followers: "I can officially announce that the acquisition of Nottingham Forest is complete."
Excited Forest supporters, who have been starved of success since the team dropped out of the Premier League in 1999, are hoping the new owners will bankroll the club in a similar manner to Roman Abramovich at Chelsea and Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City. It has even been suggested that Harry Redknapp could be parachuted in as the new manager.
Rumours of a deal have been circulating since the spring and estimates of the family's wealth, which comes from the refrigeration and air-conditioning business, vary from a few hundred million to more than a billion pounds.
Al Hasawi resigned as president of Kuwaiti club Qadsia earlier this year and lined up the deal last month, reports The Daily Telegraph. "He has made no secret that he was aiming to buy a second-tier English club, with the two-times winners of the European Cup having just retained their Championship status and on the market since the sudden death of owner Nigel Doughty in February."
The Daily Mail says that the club owed Doughty around £75m in loans when he died. "But it is believed that the in-coming owners have re-paid just a fraction of that amount to Doughty's estate to gain control of the club."
The Al-Hasawis outlined their ambition in a statement on the club website in which they said it was an "honour and privilege" to own Forest. They added: "We know there are challenging times ahead of us to bring the club back to its glory days and we look forward with excitement towards a new successful future."
Fans are already anticipating that success, and Twitter was ablaze with gossip about who could arrive at the club last night. It has been rumoured that current boss Steve Cotterill could be replaced by Neil Warnock of Leeds, although Diego Maradona and Harry Redknapp were two of the more outlandish suggestions to take over.
Other fans were more circumspect about the future though, pointing out that not all foreign owners bring success, citing the examples of Portsmouth and recently-relegated Blackburn Rovers.