KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Nottingham Forest’s ownership by Evangelos Marinakis remains an issue in the courts nine months after his purchase of the former European champions from Fawaz Al Hasawi.
The Kuwaiti ended his five-year command at the City Ground last May in what was reported as a deal worth around £15m and amid protests by fans’ who had seen six managers come and go since 2012 plus a transfer embargo for breach of financial fair play rules.
Marinakis is the English-educated Greek businessman under whose ownership Olympiacos Pireus have extended their record-breaking domination of domestic football in Greece.
He has been subject of controversy in Greece where he, along with former referees and other officials, have denied matchfixing allegations. Marinakis has described them as “absolutely unfounded.”
It was in 2016 that Marinakis first showed an interest in Forest. A proposed initial deal fell through as did another purchase approach by United States businessman John Jay Moores.
Marinakis then returned to the negotiating table, forming an English company called NF Football Investments Limited. He and another Greek investor, Sokratis Kominakis, purchased 100pc of Forest’s shares with the approval of the Football League.
Some 17 players have come and gone since Marinakis took control including the sale of forward Britt Assombalonga to Middlesbrough for £15m. Thus far only a small percentage of this money has been reinvested. The January transfer window saw a number of new arrivals on loan or free transfers.
Al Hasawi has launched legal action in the High Court, claiming that nearly £4.2m plus interest is owed to him by the club.
Marinakis, contesting the action, has counter-claimed that undisclosed liabilities became evident only after completion of the purchase.
A spokesman for Al Hasawi’s lawyers, Squire Patton Boggs, said: “We confirm that our client has issued proceedings in the High Court in respect of the repayment of various loans due to him following the sale of Nottingham Forest Football Club.
“In respect of the proceedings issued against him, our clients reject these claims in their entirety and have made an application for them to be struck out.”
The reference to ‘loans’ concerns the millions lent to Forest by Al Hasawi and which are the sums, in effect, over which the sale/purchase price was agreed. It is understood the action concerns a £4.2m stage payment which he is claiming plus interest.
Al Hasawi’s strike-out application was scheduled to be heard in the High Court on January 31 but has been adjourned until later this year.
Asked about the issue, a spokesman for Nottingham Forest responded: “Fact is that the Club took action v Mr Fawaz Al Hasawi to which he responded with a counter claim.
“Further fact is that the matter had absolutely nothing to do with the owners but solely with the Club vs Fawaz Al Hasawi.”