Nigel Doughty - Hero or Villain?
It's 11 years since Nigel Doughty took over the reigns at Nottingham Forest and in that time as Chairman he's either viewed as the saviour of the club by one section of the supporters, or the man who took us to our lowest ebb in the clubs' entire history by the other. The facts are simple. Without his own personal annual cash injection (reportedly £5-6m pa), we would have gone out of business along time ago. Despite that though, we spent 3 years in the graveyard of League 1 and we're still in search of the Holy Grail, otherwise known as the Premiership.
I'm going to do my best here not to make this an anti Doughty rant, but I fear it may become that. After the remarkable season we had last year, in which we finished 3rd and reached the semi final of the Playoffs, there was much to look forward to in the forthcoming campaign. The message boards were full of optimism and the summer rumour mill was in full flow with the anticipated arrivals of Messrs Pratley, Whittingham and Shorey, to name but 3. I'll plead guilty straight away to stoking the fires that kept 2 of those rumours burning brightly, because that was the information I was being given at the time. As we're all painfully aware by now, not one of those players arrived and with the departures of Perch, Garner, Boyd and Bennett, we are actually a weaker side than the one that ended the last season in such a strong position. Instead of building on the success and progress we made last year, we have weakened the squad and missed the best opportunity we have had to get back to where the Chairman says we rightfully belong.
Despite my own personal feelings on the appointment of Billy Davies as manager back in 2009, I'm more than happy to admit those feelings were misplaced and that it was probably Mr. Doughty's finest hour as Chairman of the club. Billy Davies not only saved us from certain relegation back to the doldrums of League 1 in his first season, he took us to the brink of the Premiership in his second. Whilst we gratefully saw Mr. Doughty open his wallet to the not insignificant amount of £5m last summer, it was in the managers own words, 'merely playing catchup with the rest', such was the lack of quality at the club at that time.
One of my main fears about the appointment of Billy Davies, was the fact that he had been so outspoken at the previous clubs' he had managed. After the failings by the club in the January transfer window, he wasted no time in telling the media what those failings were and he's continued to do so ever since. In my opinion he was only telling the truth and was letting the fans know exactly what was going on behind closed doors at the City Ground. Many supporters believe he was being disrespectful to NFFC and that he was instigating a move away from the club, but the fact remains that he hasn't been backed and has seen little in the way of support from the hierarchy at the club, other than the words from the Chairman this summer, saying he's the best manager in the Championship. If he's the best manager in the Championship, then why isn't he being supported and allowed to strengthen the squad? If people believe that the 6 month loan signing of a left back is going to keep Billy quiet and make him a happy wee man, then they're very much mistaken and I for one would expect him to raise hell.
The failure to back the manager in 2 consecutive transfer windows and the way the holding company for the club (CFFN) was quietly wound up, have led to one or two questions being asked by some fans. Mainly, do we have any money available for players? and is Nigel Doughty in the process of selling the club? Both legitimate questions in my book, but both without a satisfactory answer from the club. Now the club did release a statement after the revelation that the holding company being wound up that said. 'In May this year Nigel Doughty took full 100% control of the shares of Nottingham Forest Football Club when he transferred the shares that he had previously held via a company called CFFN into his personal name. This move was prompted purely for reasons of administrative simplicity. This has had and will have no impact on the funding of the club. CFFN has subsequently applied for solvent liquidation and has commenced the process of being struck off as a company.' We'll have to take the clubs' word on this of course, but it was a rather glib statement in my opinion and one that seemed worthy of a more in depth explanation other than for 'administrative simplicity.' So has Nigel Doughty dipped into his wallet for the last time and is he refusing to invest in the team? On the evidence we have seen up to now, that would certainly appear to be the case. Now I know it isn't my money and and as the owner of the club he can run it in whatever way he deems best, but to my mind it looks like his ambition to attain Premiership status has gone, or the club is up for sale. What other reason can there be for missing out on the best chance we've had in 11 years of getting back to the Premiership than that? Without an explanation from the club or more pertinently, the Chairman himself, rumour and speculation will continue and the future of the club will be in doubt.
Without Nigel Doughty's money, there was a very real chance that the club would have gone out of existence, but he has only ever done enough to ensure that we survived in my opinion. During his tenure we've seen the Godawful days of David Platt and the unfulfilled promise of Paul Hart's Premiership nearly men. Millions were wasted by Platt, whilst Hart was not only forced to do it with virtually no money, he had to sell the family silver in the process. Nottingham Forest is a big club with fantastic support, that has stuck with it through thick and thin. The past 11 years have been very thin indeed for supporters to endure, it may have even been enough for Nigel Doughty as well. The silence can't continue for ever, we deserve an explanation at least. The longer that silence continues, the more the rumours and speculation will grow. Is the club up for sale? Does the manager have any money to spend and how much longer will he be here? Does the Transfer Acquisitions Panel do it's job and does it even work? All questions that need an answer, but none are being given. Whilst I can see the good things that he has done for the club, it's now my opinion that he's taken us as far as he can and that it's time for him to seek new owners who can take the club forward. If he isn't prepared to invest, then it's time for him to find someone who is.
Apologies for the rant, but if anyone feels that they would like to counter some of the comments I've made, then feel free to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll put them on the front page. These are my opinions and not meant to be read as those of every Forest fan out there. This is your site, so have your say.