Over a month of speculation was ended yesterday when the board of directors of Nottingham Forest confirmed that the estate of Nigel Doughty has granted an exclusive period of negotiation to the Al-Hasawi family.
Kuwaiti businessman Fawaz Al-Hasawi has been linked to the club since he resigned from his position as president of Kuwaiti club Qadsia SC and announced on national TV that he was buying an English club.
On 31 May Arabian Business quoted him as saying: “It’s an English club. We have signed an agreement and hopefully within two weeks things will become very clear.”
“Not in the Premier League but in the first [division],” he added. “This club is better than any of what you have mentioned like Watford or Brighton. The club has rich history.”
The word ‘history’ led many to believe it would be Leeds United or Nottingham Forest. And Al-Hasawi’s ‘representatives’ on Twitter, as well as many Kuwaiti ‘journalists’, fuelled the rumours that the businessman was buying Forest. And until yesterday they remained just that – rumours.
The board’s statement said: “Advisors on behalf of the Al-Hasawi family are conducting the usual buyer’s due diligence, assisted by the estate and senior management at the football club.
“At this time we ask fans to ignore all media speculation and we will update supporters as soon as there is anything material to report.
“In the meantime, the renewal period for season tickets remains extended until such time as there is certainty with regard to the ownership of the club.
“The Board of Nottingham Forest would like to thank supporters for their patience and understanding at this difficult time.”
A statement from the Al-Hasawis confirmed that they are “well progressed in negotiations” and “currently completing our due diligence process”.
They added: “The future on-field and off-field success of Nottingham Forest is at the heart of our plans which we will of course announce in due course.”
Clearly talks are at an advanced level – names wouldn’t have been announced otherwise – however, the deal is still not yet done and could be anything up to two weeks away according to reports.
While excitement levels are running high it’s premature to be talking of big money being spent and promotion – you can’t easily buy your way out of the Championship. And we still don’t know the Al-Hasawi’s plans – what future for Frank Clark, Mark Arthur and Steve Cotterill? The season starts in just seven weeks’ time and we have an even more threadbare squad than last month.
Al-Hasawi’s wealth has been estimated at anything between a few hundred million and £1 billion so, while we’re not going to be the ‘next Man City’, it is exciting times for the club and we eagerly await further developments.
UPDATE: The Guardian reports Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson has been approached by Gianni Paladini, the former QPR chairman, on behalf of the Al-Hasawis.