The takeover saga at Nottingham Forest has taken another unexpected twist. Greek shipping magnate Evangelos Marinakis, who also owns Greek side Olympiakos, is in talks with current owner Fawaz Al Hasawi over a potential sale of the club. This turn of events comes as a particular surprise, given that the previous talks between the two parties were understood to have collapsed last summer.
Whilst nearly every Forest fan is desperate to see a transfer of power away from the hands of Al Hasawi, the mood around this potential sale springing back to life has fans feeling a little disappointed.
Marinakis, who knows Al Hasawi well from their time together at school in London, carries his own fair share of question marks over his suitability to running a football club.
It also puts to bed many fans’ hopes that a deal with American John Jay Moores might be resurrected, after talks collapsed earlier this year. The reason for which remains unknown, but if the fresh dialogue with Marinakis is to blame, many are claiming this violates the period of exclusivity that was in place during Al Hasawi’s discussions with the Americans.
Under Al Hasawi, Forest have finished progressively lower down the league table in each of his four seasons at the helm. When he came to the club, his ‘Five-Year Plan’ proclaimed that he would have Forest flirting with Champions League places in the Premier League upon its completion. Instead, when he looks at the table, Fawaz will see that he has brought Forest to within just two points of the Championship relegation zone.
Radical changes are needed at the top of this rotting football club, but many fans are worried that Marinakis represents yet more trouble for the Reds. A series of criminal cases have been waged against the Olympiakos owner recently; ranging from claims of match fixing to even the alleged blowing-up of a referee’s bakery. Nothing has been proved, and the Greek businessman admits to no wrongdoing.
What we do know is that Marinakis has already had considerable influence over the running of Nottingham Forest. It is widely known that Marinakis selected Phillippe Montanier as the club’s manager at the start of the current season, before his legal affairs in Greece prevented him from pursuing the takeover of the club. Along with the loaning of Olympiakos midfielder Pajtim Kasami to the club, these early decisions certainly don’t bode well for any future involvement from Marinakis.
If it is to be believed, however, that Forest’s latest managerial appointment was also that of Marinakis’ making, then it perhaps represents a change in approach from Forest’s prospective new owner. One that sees him put faith in people proven in the Championship, instead of the European outsourcing he opted for with the appointments of Montanier and Pedro Pereira as Director of Football. Fans will hope that this might be the early signs of him translating his phenomenal success in Greek football to the English game.
So, we must wait and see whether this marks the beginning of Nottingham Forest becoming a well-run club. Indeed, it’s not clear if this takeover will even happen in any case; since he has rekindled his interest in acquiring the club, Marinakis must believe he is now ready to pass the Football League’s Fit and Proper Test.
Images courtesy of twitter.com and Bulan Lathifah Dahayu via Flickr.com.