Nigel Doughty - The Positive Side
I`m a Doughty supporter, possibly because of my own personal Forest experience. My first year with a season ticket was 1994-95, Collymore and Roy taking us to third in the Prem, 4 points off Man Utd and the Woany/Stoney combo on the wings in full flight. From there, I saw us fall, and not under ND`s stewardship. I saw us fall out of the Prem under the cloud of Pierre`s disgraceful strike, and from there into financial meltdown. I was genuinely worried that the club was going to die.
ND steadied the ship, made mistakes along the way with appointments and the level of trust he gave to those managerial nightmares, and we did bottom out before we began our recovery. And make no mistake; we`re STILL on the upward trajectory of that return. Promotion back to the Championship, followed by survival, followed by a 3rd placed finish, all made possible by ND`s money. If there are a couple of stutters over the next couple of years, it`ll still be a remarkable comeback for the club.
My problem with the current wave of anti-Doughty hysteria is that it`s so conveniently timed and based on such subjective evidence. I know some Forest fans have harboured long standing grievances with our owner`s running of the club, going back into League 1 and the events that saw us fall there, but equally the swelling of this number has been fuelled by only one thing: the lack of transfer activity this summer.
Straight away comes the standard response defending their position from the anti-Doughty contingent, "but we failed to strengthen in the last two January windows either, he`s got no ambition/money etc". For me, the argument falls down right here. We`ve gone after targets in all three of the windows in question (the 'quiet` ones I`ll call them) and we`ve failed to land them. Before I can explain why I think this is a flawed argument, I have to bring up the AP, unfortunately.
Nottingham Forest Football Club is run a certain way. For a certain reason. Like many clubs in Europe, including most of the top Spanish and Italian sides, we have a separation of responsibilities at the City Ground, as you all know. A series of checks and balances to make sure we don`t overspend, and that we get value for money in the transfer market. The manager recommends, the panel decide on valuations, and members of the panel handle negotiations. This isn`t done in order to be overcomplicated and make it difficult to bring in players, it`s done to keep the club on a stable footing and ensure that we don`t live beyond our means. As Guin noted, ND already personally funds a significant shortfall in our budget every season , and if this were to get out of control, which spending more money without proper thought would clearly cause, the club falls into peril. For me, that is NEVER an option.
It also raises a challenge to the argument which has become a favourite over the last few days, that says that fans have been somehow duped out of money for their season tickets. If ND, a lifelong Forest fan, is putting his hand in his pocket too every season, then why shouldn`t we be? Why should our support be conditional on success, and his constant? And then how do we have the gall to call ourselves the proper supporters!?
All of the above boils down to a simple choice at the end of the day and from the feeling on the forum, one I`m glad the fans don`t make. Do the club move forwards balancing the books, as best they can, and trying to get us promoted from a sensible footing, or do they go all out, throw caution to the wind and pay whatever the cost to get players in through the door? When a club reject an offer, we should say "fine, add another million to the valuation we have of him, what does it matter?". The general feeling of fans seems to be that we should be doing the later, which for me is a massive part of the problem in modern football: that unrealistic, short sighted fans put pressure on their clubs to make silly decisions for short term gain.
This is why I feel that the current wave of negativity, on the back of the club playing safe in the transfer market, reflects very poorly on us as fans.
I also wanted to answer the point of the CFFN going into voluntary solvent liquidation. This is a clear indication of our current mindset as fans. The club issue a statement, which they rarely do (and for me, rightly so, business should always be done behind closed doors), and it`s perfectly plausible. If the holding company no longer holds the shares, why keep the holding company open!? ND transfers 100% of the shares into his own name, and the company gets wound up. The phrase "administrative simplicity" sounds like a good way of describing that activity, however in the current climate, we`re trying to read something sinister in this innocuous couple of words, when there`s nothing there.
We have a wealthy, successful, lifelong fan at the helm, and we should be very grateful for that. Not demanding his head when our progress doesn`t meet our unreasonable expectations. When the foreign investors get bored of English football, when, as regularly happens, one of the other top European leagues rotates into the position of "best league in the world", many clubs will be begging to be in our position.
After an average start to the season points-wise, but with performances encouraging, we should be supporting the club right now, egging the players on and looking to build on last season, instead of writing it off after 4 games and looking for a scapegoat before the fact. It`s only my opinion, as Guin`s post was only his, but I for one will be ashamed if I see protests at the Millwall game, and embarrassed if the Football League show get their chance to show us at our worst: our most unreasonable and short-sighted.