New Nottingham Forest owner Marinakis wants stability and glory
Beleaguered fans welcome takeover by Greek shipping magnate after five years of chaos and decline
Greek shipping magnate Evangelos Marinakis is the new owner of Championship side Nottingham Forest. Although the club only narrowly avoided relegation to League One this season, the businessman has promised to "bring back the glory days" for the former European Cup winners.
His takeover has been approved by the English Football League despite the fact that he has faced allegations of match-rigging in Greece.
Marinakis also owns Olympiakos, who have won the Greek league seven times in a row. He has pledged to use his experience there to help Forest.
He has also promised to bring stability back to the City Ground after the chaotic five-year reign of Fawaz al-Hasawi and to engage the fans by giving them a say in the running of the club.
Marinakis has already reduced season ticket prices, backed manager Mark Warburton and put a structure in place behind the scenes, with a new chairman and CEO appointed.
After the takeover was announced, Marinakis told the BBC his plans: "We have a long-term plan and within this long-term plan we want to bring Nottingham to where it belongs. And of course Nottingham belongs in the Premier League. And Nottingham belongs to the elite of the Premier League."
The Greek businessman added: "Furthermore the supporters of Nottingham have been tired all these years, they didn't have such good times. But they remained loyal and for us that's very important.
"The potential is huge. The potential of this team is that when it will be very well organised, when it will achieve victories again, when it will have a better position in the Championship… and we can look seriously at the Premier League, then we will be there to stay."
His words have been well received. "Supporters seem to be optimistic about the new ownership because five years under Fawaz promised so much but delivered so little," says Natalie Jackson of BBC East Midlands Today.
"There is a sense of relief among fans, but also caution because tremendous wealth does not automatically mean a well-run, stable and successful club. Marinakis is aggressively ambitious but has taken on a club in need of major rebuilding."
His first steps since taking over "drew immediate praise from supporters ready to embrace the future at the City Ground", says the Nottingham Evening Post.
"Marinakis has been accused of match-fixing in Greece, something he denies and has never been charged with. Those allegations do not appear to concern fans as they rejoice at the departure of Al-Hasawi, who had become increasingly unpopular among supporters."
Nottingham Forest fans furious over Hasawi bonus reports
Fawaz al-Hasawi has denied claims he is demanding a huge salary and bonus payments as he looks to sell Nottingham Forest.
A consortium of US businessmen, led by millionaire John Jay Moores, is reportedly on the verge of a £50m deal for the former European champions that would see Hasawi retain a 20% stake and stay on as chairman.
Now Daniel Taylor of The Guardian claims Hasawi "has been asking potential buyers of the club for an annual salary that could rise above £1m and a series of financial demands that include an extraordinary clause entitling him to whatever the players earn in bonuses".
The businessman appears to be "trying to strike a deal whereby he would not contribute to helping the club tick over financially but stands to make millions of pounds if the new regime can halt Forest's decline and re-establish them in the Premier League", he adds.
Taylor says the reported demands are "unlikely to go down well in the dressing-room at a time when Hasawi’s erratic leadership is already being questioned within his own club".
Forest's players are close to mutiny after four years of turmoil at the City Ground and frequent problems with their salaries, claims the journalist.
Hasawi dismissed the claims as "inaccurate".
"The terms of any potential investment deal are, and will remain, confidential," he added.
Supporters have been further incensed by the "extraordinary" claims, reports the Nottingham Post, saying: "Forest fans have called for protests against Fawaz al-Hasawi and demanded he sever all ties with the club."
US tycoon close to £50m takeover of Nottingham Forest
Nottingham Forest are set to be bought by US millionaire John Jay Moores, the former owner of the San Diego Padres baseball team.
Moores, who heads a consortium of investors planning a £50m deal, is in "advanced talks" with owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi, reports the Daily Telegraph.
A deal would bring down the curtain on Hasawi's turbulent four year ownership of the club, although it has been reported that he wants to remain as chairman of the club and retain a 20 per cent stake.
"Moores has been determined to acquire an English club with tradition, and Forest's proud history, winning the European Cup twice under Brian Clough in 1979 and 1980, has marked them out as an attractive proposition," says the Telegraphs, which claims he held talks with Everton earlier in the year.
The deal is expected to be announced in the next few weeks and "would be seen as a huge positive for the majority of Forest supporters".
Protests against the current owners are planned ahead of tonight's game against Birmingham City. Fans believe today's news has been released to undermine their cause, reports website HITC.
Relations between supporters and Hasawi are at an all-time low after four seasons of lacklustre performances and a series of off-field dramas. This season has seen another takeover fall through, the club lose winger Oliver Burke, their biggest asset, to Red Bull Leipzig for £13m with no sell-on clause and new sporting director Pedro Pereira walk out amid reports of a boardroom row.
Under Haswai, Forest have also had to contend with winding up orders and late payments to staff. This summer, they were forced to reduce their capacity after a safety audit. The side currently lie 18th in the table and new manager Philippe Montanier is under pressure after six games without a win. It is five years since Forest began and ended a season with the same man in charge.
"A new hand on the tiller, at a time when the club feels at low ebb... has to be a good thing," says the Nottingham Evening Post. "Those who are demanding change will be able to see it on the horizon. Not just with vague talk of an American consortium, but with a name and a face to pin their hopes on as well. While frustration among supporters is entirely justified and understandable, now a potential alternative is in sight."