Date:Thursday November 16 2006
If you read through the clippings and fans views on Nottingham Forest over the last 6-7 years you will find that there has been a lot of criticism thrown towards a certain Mr Doughty about the way he has run the club. Top players being sold, relegation to the third division (well it is really), and of course a dismal succession of managerial appointments have all provided ammunition to the cause of the Doughty doubters. Admittedly some of this criticism has been justified such as the managerial appointments for example, but a great deal of it has not. Lest we forget the financial mire we were in 5 years ago when we were so close to going into administration. However, since the takeover of Chelsea FC by billionaire Roman Abramovich, many forest fans I know dream of the day that a wealthy foreign business man will come along to whisk us off our feet and show us a good time, so to speak.
I on the other hand am not so sure. Like everything else, there is a good side and a bad side to having a wealthy foreign backer. For example, in the red corner you have the American Randy Lerner offering Villa fans free coach trips to West London in the middle of the week but in the blue corner you have the Lithuanian Vladimir Romanov turning Hearts into a circus and stripping the club and its players of their dignity. Now it is too early to know if Lerner will be the man to lead Villa out of the doldrums but he has certainly got it right so far with the backing of Martin O`Neill and a healthy league position. Romanov meanwhile has alienated the fans and playing staff along with a good few managers all of whom had a done a satisfactory job up until being fired. Hearts were never close to relegation, won the Scottish cup and even qualified for the Champions League but the dictatorial style of Romanov`s leadership has made him look like a megalomaniac.
Meanwhile at one of Martin O`Neill`s former clubs, Leicester, fans are currently rejoicing at the idea of a takeover by Milan Mandaric and there is no doubt that he did a very good job at Pompey to get them in the premiership. However, in pushing out Harry and Jim in such a clumsy way, he was nearly instrumental in them losing that cherished spot amongst the elite and only saved them by swallowing his pride. Ask the fans about the proposed takeover at West Ham that seemed to remove the ability and confidence of every player they had and you will probably not get a positive response. We will probably never know the facts about the deal that brought the Argentines to Upton Park but there is something very sinister about it and their performances on the pitch has done little to redress the balance. Whether or not the proposed take over by Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson et al ever happens, remains in the balance for now but it would appear that it cannot happen soon enough for the players and the fans.
Many fans will argue that foreign backers do not know the history and traditions of a club resulting in a loss of identity amongst all the commercial activities and re-branding. Only recently, Manchester United fans were burning their season tickets when another American tycoon, Michael Glazier first brought a major shareholding in the club. However, United are now they are top of the premiership and everything seems rosy again. There is still of course a small group of Manchester United supporters who now support a newly formed non-league version of the club instead of visiting Old Trafford, but I am sceptical about how long that will last.
There is no doubt that huge financial investment can be a great thing for a club, take Jack Walker at Blackburn for example. Of course Jack was a life-long fan and the fulfilment of a boyhood dream was his main motivation, not money, although the money ran out and Blackburn once again became an also ran. Sustainability is the key to remaining successful over a period of years and if Mr Abramovich loses his interest in Chelsea it will be interesting to see how Chelsea would prevent a similar loss of status. Nigel Doughty is of course a life-long Forest fan but also a shrewd business man who tends to rule with his head and not his heart. This can be seen as a good thing or a bad thing but on the plus side he is obviously not a fly-by-night and he is more likely to provide a sustainable financial situation. The real test will come if and when we get back into the championship and after that the premiership of course, as money will have to be spent to make the reds competitive. I for one would always rather have a Forest man at the helm and only time will tell if Doughty is the man to lead us back to the promised-land. Lets hope so eh?
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