Date:Friday December 3 2010
The announcement in Zurich yesterday that FIFA have awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia, will be seen as a swift kick in the gonads not only to the England bid team, but also the candidate host cities, of which Nottingham was one. The city of Nottingham stood to benefit to the tune of £130m, whilst NFFC stood to benefit from a brand new stadium and a shiny new home, if the bid had been a success. The first thoughts of Forest fans, might be that not only are the hopes of a brand new stadium dead in the water, but also that any hopes of a potential takeover have also bitten the dust.
In actual fact, the news of Russia winning the bid, might merely prove to be little more than a fly in the ointment, at least from the perspective of Nottingham Forest. The financial benefits of being a host city in the 2018 World Cup to the city of Nottingham would have undoubtedly been huge, but they are most definitely gone and lost for eternity. However, the potential takeover of NFFC and a shiny new home are most definitely not.
The chances of Nottingham Forest building a new stadium in the City Council and NFFC's preferred location of Gamston, died a long time ago and way before the news of the England bid failing in Zurich yesterday. The County Council put paid to those plans over a year ago, just before Nottingham was awarded candidate host city status from the England bid team, by blocking any plans for the new stadium to be built on the proposed site at Gamston. Both NFFC and the City Council knew the chances of building on the much hallowed greenbelt land at Gamston were nil, but even as late in the day as yesterday morning on local radio, the leader of the Nottingham bid team (Hugh White) was saying those plans were alive and kicking, despite statements from the County Council to the contrary earlier this year.
It's been an open secret now for several months, that the club and City Council have been planning to build on the brown field site near the city centre known as Eastside. The scale of the Eastside development programme is said to be worth in the region of £900m and would incorporate much more than a new home for NFFC. Residential apartments, offices, leisure facilities and a casino are all part of the plans and the potential new owners of NFFC are in for a huge slice of the development as well as the club. Whilst plans for the takeover of NFFC have yet to be completed and the development plans for the land have also to be rubber stamped, it's understood that a deal that satisfies all parties, (including landowners Guernsey based Heathcote Holdings) involved in making all this happen, is indeed edging closer. It`s believed that the current potential owners are the only interested party in NFFC, with former contenders Multiplex now apparently out of the running altogether.
The City Council have been trying to develop the land at Eastside since 2004, but due to the current economic climate, they have found it difficult to pursue their intentions in developing the site. It now appears that interest is hotting up in both the purchase of NFFC and the potential for the land at Eastside. Nottingham Forest chairman Nigel Doughty is said to be keen to sell and cut his losses after eleven years in charge and the City Council are more than keen to see the development get underway. The apparent plans for the new stadium are to make it a multi-purpose venue, incorporating other sports such as Hockey and Rugby, as well having the ability to be a concert venue and to be the new 'Wembley for womens football.'
The disappointment of losing out on the World Cup bid may be a blow to the country as a whole, but to NFFC it may turn out to have been no more than the cherry on top of a very big cake.
Date:Friday December 3 2010
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