I’ve supported Nottingham Forest since my dad took me to games in the 1980s. Season ticket holder at the age of 16, regular at the City Ground for much of the 90s; followed them home and away a lot back then. Season ticket holder again from 2007 until 2011. I was once proud to wear the shirt, write with a pen, dangle a car air freshener, carry a hold all, drink from a cup etc etc, all embossed with the famous Forest badge on them. I even have a Forest bath duck! Although my 3-year-old makes use of that these days.
But I – like many other fans who have expressed their anger on Social Media this week – am struggling to lend my support to a football club that is run by a despot owner in the form of Fawaz al Hasawi.
His lies, deceit, undermining of the team’s manager, coupled with the business acumen of a clown, is crippling the club and infuriating fans young and old. This transfer window he first assured manager Phillipe Montanair that none of the club’s best players would be sold. Good news, we thought. A few new additions and all would be good Trent side. Then, on Sunday, completely out of the blue, came a hammer blow. Fawaz – not the manager – had orchestrated the sale of one of the club’s most promising young talents in years, Oliver Burke.
Burke was described by his own team mate Thomas Lam as ‘the next Gareth Bale’, and although the Welshman’s boots are big ones to fill, the comparisons are firmly in place. Power, pace, composure, confidence, control, touch and an eye for goal – all attributes Bale has in spades.
Burke’s four goals this season have been pure class. He’s a precocious talent who we could have built the team around. It sounds odd saying that about a 19-year-old but it’s certainly not bluster. Fans loved him and he loved the fans. You could tell. But within the blink of an eye he was sold to some big spending German side from Leipzig, sponsored by Red Bull.
£13m is a lot of money, but Burke, to many, was priceless. The player himself has spoken of his surprise at Forest, sorry, Fawaz, accepting an offer to sell him. The fact that the player didn’t want to go, and the fact Fawaz had gone back on his promise not to sell our prize assets together with his blatant disregard of the club’s manager by going over his head for a pot of cash, to me, showed the true reason for the deal: money.
I could have coped had he gone to, say, Man U, and been loaned back to us, as was the rumour; I could understand us holding on to him until January and then allowing him to leave perhaps with a greater price tag, but I cannot cope with deceit.
Fawaz, under immense pressure from baying fans angry that their prized asset was gone in such a callous way, told us the money would be reinvested into the squad. It was not. Not even an indent was made as three players joined, two no one has heard of, for well under £1m. I’ll reserve judgement on those players until I see them on the park, and none of this is their fault, or the fault of the manager who must be wondering what’s next from his balmy chairman. Fawaz saw £££ and went for it.
Tomorrow, I shall be following AFC Mansfield as part of my FA Cup Quest. It’s an international break anyway so no Forest to worry or get angry over, but even had they been playing my full attention would have been on the Cup as it’s increasingly hard to support them at the moment. One man does not make a team, as the old adage goes, and of course you should support your team no matter what. But bloody hell does that pillock make it hard work to lend your support.
It’s Non League Day tomorrow, and quite frankly I would rather watch non league football every week than ‘my team’ while that fiscally-motivated excuse of a chairman is in charge of Forest. There is a protest planned for our next home game. We want our Forest back. Brian Clough will be turning in his grave. No way would he have stood for this. Why should us fans?
Tomorrow’s game between AFC and Stratford Town will give me something else to focus on; something to enjoy. I need that this week.