Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Communication, Communication, Communication

When Fawaz al Hasawi concluded his takeover of Nottingham Forest in the summer of 2012 I'm sure he didn't think that a few million pounds spent on players would let the Reds waltz straight back into the Premier League. Equally, I'm not sure he knew exactly what he'd let himself in for. He's certainly finding out now. 

If anyone reading this thinks I take pleasure from that then they couldn't be further from the truth as I'm fully supportive of Fawaz and his management team. I do, however, think that, in terms of communication with the fans, something needs to change. 

Shortly after Fawaz took over he used his personal Twitter account to confirm the permanent signing of Adlene Guedioura, then during that close season he announced all of Forest's signings the same way. For a fan base who had suffered a difficult season, the low point of which was the tragic and untimely death of previous owner Nigel Doughty, this was something new and exciting and quickly elevated Fawaz to hero status. 

The season started well and Forest were placed just outside the playoff places when, following a 4-2 victory over Leeds United, it was announced that then-manager Sean O'Driscoll had been sacked by the club. For the first time, some fans began to question Fawaz's judgement and motives using the same medium of Twitter and, to be frank, I don't think he was expecting it. 

The January of 2013 is probably best forgotten. The appointment of Alex McLeish certainly didn't appease fans. Nor did the acquisition of Kuwaiti goalkeeper Khaled al Rashidi or the Deadline Day failure to sign George Boyd. Add to that the stuttering performances of the team and the Forest camp was, understandably, not a happy one. 

McLeish was promptly relieved of his duties and former manager Billy Davies was brought back to the club. Results picked up and a late run saw Forest only miss out on the playoffs on the last day. Despite this upturn in fortunes some people still weren't happy. And that's fine, people of course have their own opinions. But it's also part of the problem. Whatever actions the owner of a football club takes, it's highly probable that some fans won't like them. It's how they express this dislike that causes the issues

Fast forward to January 2014. Forest are once again well placed, this time in the playoffs and enjoying an 11 match unbeaten run. Billy Davies has talked about strengthening the team but, as yet, the presumably-imminent signing of Algerian striker Rafik Djebbour has been the only new arrival.  I say 'presumably-imminent' because, as I write this, it hasn't been officially confirmed, despite the player himself claiming to have joined. Worse still, popular and impressive defender Jack Hobbs has been recalled by his parent club Hull City. I won't go into the full details of that deal - I'd need another whole blog post to do it - but, in short, Fawaz tweeted that he had agreed a deal with the Hull chairman for Hobbs but, a few days later, he was recalled.

The Hobbs revelation prompted more feedback to Fawaz via Twitter, as it was bound to. Some of it was politely questioning but a small portion was sarcastic at best and downright rude at worst. To further inflame the situation, fans of other clubs went as far as changing their own Twitter profiles to appear as Forest fans and send their own comments to Fawaz. All this combined to prompt in return a series of tweets from Fawaz expressing his disappointment with a small number of fans and, via his advisor Jim Price's Twitter account, a request from Billy Davies himself to respect the man who funds the club out of his own pocket. Were these actions the right thing to do? Probably not. But, as a Forest fan it disappoints me that both Fawaz and Billy felt the need to do it.

We all want to know what's going on at the club, but there are two inescapable facts that we, as fans, have to get our heads around:

1) We can't be told everything.
2) Things change. What might be true today might not be true tomorrow.

We need to recognise this and try to exercise some patience - however difficult that might seem. Fawaz - for his part - needs to try and recognise some of the comments for what they are. If he is guilty of anything it's perhaps underestimating the passion of football fans in this country, not realising the lengths that opposition fans go to in order to rock the boat and maybe being over-sensitive. For a man as obviously passionate about football and Forest as he is though, that's probably not an easy task.

So, how can this situation be remedied? The easy answer is for Fawaz to leave Twitter but why should he? He had his account before he bought Forest and he shouldn't be forced out because of the actions of a few. My personal preference would be that he uses his personal account for just that - his own personal use - and protects it so he can choose who follows him. Trouble-causers from both our own club and our rivals will soon tire of having their follow requests denied. In addition he could reactivate the old @NFFC_Chairman account which was briefly used by Omar and use that to announce signings and news, whilst also endeavouring to not get too downhearted by whatever comments he might receive.

Whatever Fawaz and Forest do there will be some people who don't like it, but the overwhelming majority of Forest fans are supportive of him and his attempts to take us back to the Premier League and that's the message I'd like to end this post with. Ignore the few and enjoy the support of the many - because the many are happy and grateful for what you've done for the club.


  1. Great post.

    Obviously what matters on the pitch is massive, and player acquisitions, contracts, staff and the like take priority for that, BUT I'd rather read about what the club is doing to make itself more self-sustainable and how it proposes creating revenue. The accounts used to show a £1m loss every month, which considering our attendances and supposive appeal reflected on the like of Amazon is staggering. I could be mistaken but clubs like Swansea and West Brom haven't seemingly had benefactors like ours (including ND) yet are prospering in the PL, and despite less support.

  2. That's a really good point Eddie. Our commercial revenues are pretty woeful and that's an area that definitely needs to be addressed. I've also missed the point - that I should have added - that Fawaz has spent a huge amount of money revamping the hospitality facilities at the club. Things like that shouldn't be overlooked.

  3. That is one area people seem to forget about the expenditure that keeps the club running day to day. It isn't just about transfer fees

  4. My point also Roman is that the only time we hear from Jim Price is when he is having a brawl with the media , us fans don't want to hear that and with the media blackout it is a shame that we do not hear what players have to say after games etc.I fully back Fawaz and respect what he is doing for this great club and long may it continue .