A kick in the teeth for Forest

Led by the charismatic and completely bonkers Brian Clough, Forest in the late 1970s really were the pride of Europe, winning back to back European Cups in 1979 and 1980.

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The late Brian Clough, a football genius who was also as mad as a box of frogs. — AFP Photo

Paul Kennedy

People of a certain age, and I include myself in that bracket, will remember when Nottingham Forest were a football powerhouse.

Led by the charismatic and completely bonkers Brian Clough, Forest in the late 1970s really were the pride of Europe, winning back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980.

Trevor Francis aside, who was the first ever one-million-pound player in English football, Forest were not really a squad of superstars but instead, a hardworking team that followed Clough’s orders to the letter.

I’ve been to the City Ground a few times and never seen Liverpool win there. They were a bogey team of sorts and always seemed to have the edge over my team.

It’s worth noting that their 1-0 victory earlier this month, courtesy of a 99th minute winner by Darwin Nunez, was Liverpool’s first win at Nottingham Forest for more than 40 years.

I remember one game I saw there in particular. It was in the late 1980s and Liverpool wore a silver away kit.

Clough, as only Clough would do, dressed the ball boys in grey tracksuits, and for most of the first half Liverpool kept passing to them!

After a complaint by manager Kenny Dalglish, the young ground staff changed tops after the break, but Liverpool still lost.

Looking at Forest today, it’s hard to comprehend how good a team they once were. Forest last season finished 16th to maintain their Premier League position, and right now are in 18th position, meaning if they stay there, it’s curtains for the club and relegation.

Forest dropped into the relegation zone after being deducted four points for a breach of the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules (PSR).

Forest admitted breaching PSR by £34.5m above their permitted threshold of £61m.

Clubs are usually allowed maximum losses of £105m over a three-year assessment period, but this is reduced by £22m per season for any seasons within the period spent in the Championship.

The four-point deduction moves Forest into 18th place in the Premier League, one point behind Luton, who moved up to 17th.

Now I’m all for fair play. Rules must be followed, and violations punished, but this deduction is a real kick in the teeth for the East Midlands team and one I fear they won’t recover from.

You need a super computer or an advanced Master’s Degree in really complicated accounting to make sense of Profitability and Sustainability Rules, but if this is the punishment barometer that’s been set, I do wonder what will happen to Manchester City when they are eventually brought to book.

But with an army of incredibly well-paid lawyers scrutinising every dot and comma in the 100 plus charges City face, God only knows when the matter will be dealt with. A luxury Forest couldn’t afford.

I hope Nottingham Forest do stay up, and I hope Everton, who were also recently docked points, avoid relegation as well.

There’s no way Forest can return to the dizzy heights they reached back in the late 1970s, but a club of their pedigree do deserve to be in the top flight.

Theo Vietnamnews