Hurricane Matthew may be a continent away but there’s a storm brewing by the Trent and it’s heading straight for Fawaz Al Hasawi.
Forest supporters all over the globe will be more than aware of the rumblings that are gaining momentum on social media; twitter in particular playing host to the #fawazout slogan. There is widespread distain for Forest‘s owner/Chairman and there is a lot of substance behind it.
The list of anomalies that litter the Kuwaiti’s tenure at the club seems to be increasing and perceptions of the man are certainly changing for the worse. None more so than my own; a couple of years ago I wrote an article about how much respect I had for him. It was mainly in relation to his investment into the squad during the reign of Stuart Pearce, but I found very few reasons to support him since.
So, what has he done to nurture a revolt from the likes of myself? Where do I start? Failing to pay your own staff on time is not a good idea, these men and women who serve our wonderful football club deserve better, so to have these happen twice is just unacceptable! Whilst we’re on the subject of payments it would be remiss not to mention the numerous late payments to sub contractors and external parties who provide services for the club. From catering to printing firms, they have all been taken for a ride at some point. A former employee told me that it was nothing out of the ordinary to witness angry, unpaid contractors, waiting at the famous red gates on any given Monday.
The fact that the club has faced winding up orders on more than one occasion tells you that this is more than an honest mistake, in a word it’s arrogance. There may well be monetary advantages regarding interest payments but it’s a PR disaster and gives Nottingham Forest a very bad name. The alleged late or non payment regarding loan players is another contentious issue, if this is indeed true then what chance does a manager have when he’s recruiting?
The fact that Mr Al Hasawi has held the positions of both, Chairman and Owner for the past four years doesn’t sit well with the fans. You need a balance and certainly not a dictatorship, which is exactly what we have right now. There seemed to be light at the end of the City Ground tunnel a while back, a few potential investors were ready to pitch for the purchase of the club. Thankfully, Evangelos Marinakis will not be getting involved; the Greek shipping tycoon seemed far from squeaky clean and had his own list of indiscrepancies. There was recent talk about an American consortium making a bid for the club, but that, like the other possible deals has all but evaporated into thin air. Allegedly there was a very solid bid at the tail end of last season; it was believed to be financially sound. From what I was told, it came from Canada and was too good to turn down, if this is true, why was it rejected and why did we not hear about it?
Fawaz insists that the buyers just aren’t out there, I’m hearing a very different story from people closely connected to the club though. Without proof this kind of rumour is worthless but it’s starting to make sense. Is he rejecting offers purposely in order to remain at the helm?
I did actually think that the owner was changing for the better when he finally landed a shirt sponsor, replacing his own company name with that of a gambling business (not much difference there!) Then came the welcome appointment of Pedro Pereira as Director of Football, like most people, I really thought that we were turning a corner. However, four months later and guess what? Pereira has walked away from the club! Let us not forget the safety certificate saga which effectively closed our stadium for a while; that wasn’t embarrassing at all was it?
The final straw for me personally was the underhand sale of Oliver Burke, every aspect of this deal was woeful. Philippe Montanier was told that Burke wasn’t for sale days before the young Scot was packed off to Germany, without a definitive sell on clause. The player himself has publicly stated that he didn’t know he was going, so that tells you all you need to know about the motives of the chairman. As for the sizable transfer fee; Al Hasawi claims that it was available for the manager to spend how he wanted. Ask yourself this question; if you had the best part of £10m to spend, would you have brought in the same three players that we have done?
Something has to give; whilst I do not condone verbal abuse towards Mr Al Hasawi, I can understand the frustration of the fans. There has also been abuse targeted at local journalists, again this isn’t helping the situation. They have a responsibility to maintain working relationships with the club, effectively their hands are tied. As for the likes of myself, I have less to lose because what I write is indicative of my view from the stands. Fawaz does himself no favours at all by taking to twitter when he wants to vent his anger though; plenty of keyboard warriors out there already pal.
There is an undercurrent of tension and resentment towards Mr Al Hasawi and a protest is imminent, how that protest is executed is yet to be seen. There have been suggestions of mass walk outs, boycotting whole matches and a possible game screening s away from the City Ground.
If Mr Al Hasawi cares about the club as much as he says then he needs to meet with the supporters in an organised forum, a chance for all concerned to voice their opinions in the right manner. We need transparency and no more of this cloak and dagger behaviour; it’s time to crawl from behind your laptop and try a little face to face discussion. However; it is my belief that Fawaz won’t have time to reach for his brolly before the storm arrives this time!