Nottingham Forest have met a court order to pay ex-owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi £5.2million but have restated their intention to overturn that ruling on appeal.
The Championship club and the Kuwaiti have been at loggerheads ever since he sold Forest to Greek shipping tycoon Evangelos Marinakis in 2017.
That brought an end to an eventful five-year reign at the City Ground, which started well but fizzled away as Al-Hasawi burned through money, managers and the fans’ patience.
Last month, however, a high court judge ordered Forest to return £4.1million to Al-Hasawi, plus interest and legal fees, to make a total of £5.2million, which was growing by £1,300 every day.
That debt has now been settled, the club has confirmed, but the fight is far from over.
In a statement released to PA, Forest said: “The club can confirm it has been granted permission to appeal that decision after a senior Lord Justice of Appeal ruled the club’s appeal has real prospects of success. The club will now pursue the appeal.
“The club can confirm that payment of all sums due has been made. The club is disappointed that Mr Al-Hasawi elected to take such an aggressive stance on enforcement whilst the parties were in discussions about an amicable way forward.”
The statement concluded by saying Al-Hasawi’s repeated claim that he sold Forest to Marinakis for £1 is “wholly misleading” as he “obtained substantial payment in the form of loan repayments, as well as the new owners taking on the substantial debts he created”.
Al-Hasawi, on the other hand, blames Forest for the breakdown in relations and maintains he wrote off £60million in loans when he sold the club for a price he insists was just £1.
“I put my heart into Nottingham Forest and invested more than £100million over my five years with the club but, rather than honour the sale agreement, the new owners failed to repay the £4.1million it owed and refused to resolve the situation amicably,” he said in a statement.
“They threw the first punch by issuing court proceedings while we were still talking and I was forced to defend myself. I have not been aggressive towards the club. I loaned it money when I owned it and the new owners agreed that the club would repay a small part of those loans.
“We produced documentary evidence to prove our case and the court issued a judgement entirely in my favour which vindicates the position I was forced to take. Their original action was utterly rejected.”
Al-Hasawi said he feels “sorry for the fans”, who “deserve better than this from the club’s new owners”, and claimed he “sold (Forest) cheap” to help them reach the Premier League.
“I still love Nottingham Forest,” he added.
He did not, though, comment on whether he would now return, as promised, the replica of the 1959 FA Cup trophy which he has kept but the club would like back in their trophy cabinet.
Under manager and former player Martin O’Neill, Forest finished ninth in the Championship last season and had their highest average attendance for 40 years, while Marinakis has promised to redevelop the ground.
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