|Full name||The City Ground|
|Location||City Ground, West Bridgford, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG2 5FJ|
|Public transit|| Nottingham|
|Record attendance||49,946 (Nottingham Forest vs Manchester United, 28 October 1967)|
|Field size||115 x 78 yards (105.2 x 71.3 metres)|
|Surface||Grass (Undersoil Heating)|
|Scoreboard||ADI Virtuality v8|
|Opened||3 September 1898|
|Expanded||1957 (Former East Stand), 1965 (Peter Taylor Stand), 1980 (Brian Clough Stand), 1992–1993 (Bridgford Stand), 1994–1996 (Trent End)|
|Architect||Husband & Co (1980), Miller Partnership (1992–1993, 1994–1996)|
|General contractor||Taylor Woodrow (1992–1993, 1994–1996)|
|Nottingham Forest (1898–present)|
The City Ground is a football stadium in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, England, on the banks of the River Trent. It has been home to Nottingham Forest Football Club since 1898, and has a capacity of 30,445.
The stadium was a venue when England hosted Euro 96, and is only three hundred yards (270 m) away from Meadow Lane, home of Forest's neighbouring club Notts County; the two grounds are the closest professional football stadiums in England and the second-closest in the United Kingdom after the grounds of Dundee and Dundee United. They are located on opposite sides of the River Trent.
Nottingham Forest Football Club is the oldest league football club in the world, and was founded in 1865, but didn't move to the City Ground, its seventh home, until 33 years later in 1898. For their first 14 years the club played most of their matches at the Forest Recreation Ground from which they took their name. This was common land so the club were unable to exploit their matches commercially, and as there was no gate money revenue came mainly from the players' membership fees. When Forest first entered the FA Cup in 1878–79, reaching the semi-finals, they were unable to play home fixtures, as the cup competition rules stipulated that spectators should be charged admission. In 1879 the club left The Forest to play at the Castle Ground in The Meadows, after the Notts Castle Football Club which had previously played there disbanded and its players joined Forest. This allowed Forest to charge admission in time for its second FA Cup campaign in 1879–80. Rapidly-growing interest in the game saw the ability to accommodate large numbers of spectators at football matches increase in importance, and from 1880 most of the club's important games were played at Trent Bridge Cricket Ground, then Nottingham's most advanced enclosed sports venue. In 1883, however, Forest were abruptly replaced as tenants at Trent Bridge by local rivals Notts County, a move possibly connected with Notts' appointment of the secretary of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club to their own newly-created post of paid Club Secretary.
Forest only discovered they were being replaced at Trent Bridge in early August 1883, leaving them very little time to find a new ground, and the Parkside Ground in Lenton where Forest first played on 22 September was criticised for its distance from the town, its slope and its uneven surface, with one newspaper columnist commenting that "so long as the Forest Club will maintain a ground on which it is impossible for them to play their particular game accurately, in addition to being bleak and generally inaccessible, they will meet with little patronage". Despite moving three years later to the nearby Gregory Ground, which was much better reviewed in the press, Lenton's distance from the centre of Nottingham saw attendances continue to dwindle and in 1890 the club moved again, this time to the Town Ground in The Meadows, which was much closer to the club's roots and became Forest's first proper football stadium.
In July 1897 the Town Ground was briefly renamed the City Ground in recognition of Nottingham being granted city status, but the newly-formed city council planned to redevelop the site for building and terminated Forest's lease, offering instead the site on the south side of the river that would become today's City Ground. This land had been granted to the Mayor and Burgesses of Nottingham by Edward VI in a royal charter dated 21 February 1551, with the intention that rentals from the agricultural land would pay for the upkeep of the adjacent Trent Bridge. The City Council granted the club a 21 year lease on the new site and the club approved the scheme to move to the new ground at their annual meeting in December 1897. To raise the £3,000 required to finance the move the club asked members, supporters and businessmen to subscribe to "New Ground Scheme" bonds which cost £5 each, raising over £2,000. Many of the bonds were never redeemed, the bondholders effectively making a donation to fund the new ground.
Forest first played at the new City Ground a week before their FA Cup Final victory in April 1898, and the reserve team played there on the afternoon of the final itself, but the ground was not officially opened until the first match of the following season, a Division One game against Blackburn Rovers on 3 September 1898 with an attendance of 15,000. The ground had a wooden-slatted main stand on the west side with a barrel roof, a narrow wooden shelter covering the full width of the Trent End, and a shorter roof covering part of the east side. The pitch was considered to be among the finest in the country, "a velvet carpet of lush turf". This was the result of the work of club committee-member William Bardill, a nurseryman and landscape gardener whose family firm still exists in Stapleford. Bardill excavated the playing area to a depth of two feet, lay a bed of clinker to ensure perfect drainage, and on top lay a pitch of high-quality turf brought by barge up the river from Radcliffe-on-Trent.
Forest's first round FA Cup match against Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1898 attracted a crowd of 32,070, the first time a football match in Nottingham had attracted gate receipts of over £1,000. The ground was considered to be "one of the best in the country" and was chosen to host the FA Cup Semi final in 1899, recognition that was proclaimed at the club's annual meeting to be "beneficial to the club and the city". The ground held a total of four FA Cup semi-finals between 1899 and 1905, and a full international match between England and Wales in 1909.
Throughout the 1900s Notts County also regularly used the City Ground for home matches when their usual venue at Trent Bridge Cricket Ground was unavailable for football due to cricket taking precedence.
The new ground was called the City Ground. It was only a few hundred yards from the old Town Ground at the opposite end of Trent Bridge, which had been named after the Town Arms pub. Nottingham was granted its Charter as a City in 1897 and it was called the City Ground to commemorate this as the land on which it stands was at that time within the City boundary. In 1952 boundary changes resulted in the ground coming under the local council of West Bridgford (Rushcliffe Borough Council) rather than the city. Opposite the City Ground, still within the City boundaries, lies Meadow Lane, home of Notts County.
The City Ground was the first football ground to have elliptically shaped goalposts when it was presented with a new set of goals by the Nottingham-based Standard Goals Company in 1922, before this goalposts had usually been round or square. This shape eventually became commonplace, but the FA's ruling in 1938 that the 8 yard width of a goal should be measured from the inside of such posts meant that the City Ground's goals had been 2 inches too narrow for the preceding sixteen years.
In 1935 the club declined an opportunity to buy the ground from Nottingham Corporation for £7,000.
During the Second World War the City Ground held a variety of events to entertain off-duty servicemen, including boxing, horse gymkhanas, and visits from zoos. The pitch was badly damaged by bombing on the night of 8–9 May 1941, with repairs costing £75 9s 11d.
The City Ground was flooded after the adjacent River Trent burst its banks in March 1947, with Forest having to play some home fixtures at Meadow Lane. Many archives and official records were damaged and floodwaters reached as high as the crossbars of the goals, with swans seen swimming the full length of the pitch.
After winning promotion in 1950 Forest drew up plans for redeveloping the City Ground, and detailed plans were drawn up by local architects Reginald Cooper and Partners in 1951. The first step was the extension and covering of the Trent End in 1954, though a planned second tier of seats at this end was never built. On 12 October 1957, a new East Stand opened, costing £40,000 and having benches to seat up to 2,500 fans to the rear of the terrace. Together with improvements to the Colwick Road Terrace this gave the ground an increased capacity of 48,000 with 6,500 seats for the club's first season in the top division since 1925. The visitors for the opening were Manchester United’s "Busby Babes", just four months before eight of them died in the Munich air disaster, and the match on 12 October 1957 saw a new record attendance of 47,804.
Although Forest had pioneered floodlit football matches, holding a game illuminated by Wells lights at the Gregory Ground in March 1889, the City Ground was the second from last top division ground to install permanent floodlights. The floodlights at the ground were first used on 11 September 1961 as Forest faced Gillingham in the League Cup. Four 120 ft pylons were built, one in each corner of the ground, with each pylon holding a bank of thirty six 1,500 watt lights. The ground's all-time record attendance of 49,946 was set in October 1967 when Forest beat Manchester United 3–1 in a First Division fixture, five months after Forest had finished second to United in the league. In December 1967 the City Ground was host to an England U23 match against Italy.
The Main Stand was re-roofed, extended and refurbished between 1962 and 1965, with new offices, changing rooms, kit stores, medical suites and press rooms to the rear. On 24 August 1968, however, fire broke out in the stand during a First Division game against Leeds United. It started near the dressing rooms and spread rapidly through the largely wooden building. The stand was damaged but, despite a crowd numbering 31,126, none of them were injured. The only reported injuries were to a television crew on the TV gantry, who had to scramble down it because the access ladder was stored in the boiler room. The gantry was extended the length of the stand and now has access at both ends. Many of the club's records, trophies and other memorabilia were also lost in the fire. The stand's roof was undamaged, however, allowing the club to rebuild the base of the stand underneath it in concrete and steel. As a result of the fire, Forest played six 'home' matches at nearby Meadow Lane, losing all of them, and after returning to the City Ground used the changing rooms of nearby Trent Bridge Cricket Ground while the Main Stand was rebuilt.
The Executive Stand was opened in August 1980 and was built at a cost of £2.5 million — largely from proceeds of the highly successful era in which Forest brought the European Cup back to Nottingham in 1979 and 1980, having won the league title in 1978. Forest also won the Football League Cup twice during that era.
Under Clough's reign, Forest had taken the English domestic game and the European scene by storm and money raised from those successes was invested in a stand that had a capacity of 10,000. It was renamed The Brian Clough Stand after his retirement, and was re-opened after refurbishment by the man himself in the mid-1990s. The stand also incorporated 36 executive boxes and a large dining area, which was designed to be the focus of the club's corporate hospitality arrangements. The stand had the word "FOREST" picked out in white seats against the red seats of the upper tier, the first stand in football known to have used this form of coloured seat identification. The opening of the new stand gave the City Ground a capacity of 35,567, including 15,009 seats, a figure that would remain broadly constant until terrace capacities began to be cut after the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.
Nottingham Forest had been the opposing team in the fateful FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Hillsborough, Sheffield, on 15 April 1989, in which 97 Liverpool fans were fatally injured in a human crush on the stadium's terraces. The disaster resulted in the Taylor Report ordering that all clubs in the top two divisions of English football should have an all-seater stadium by August 1994. This resulted in the need for more redevelopment and refurbishment at the City Ground.
In 1991 Nottingham City Council proposed to build a 45,000 capacity stadium at a cost of £44m on the site of Wilford Power Station, one mile to the west of the City Ground, to be shared by Forest and Notts County. Although Notts County were keen on the idea the plan was abandoned after Brian Clough declared "over my dead body" and threatened to quit if the plan was approved. Forest's own plans were to redevelop the two ends of the City Ground into all-seater stands, starting with the Trent End, but this was held up by a dispute with the City Council over the 8m-15m strip at the back of the Trent End that they would need to build over to extend the stand. The club had signed a 50-year lease from the City Council for the 11 acres of the City Ground in 1964 at a rent of £750 a year, but the Council demanded a rent of £150,000 a year for the 1,121 square yard "ransom strip" behind the Trent End, leading to accusations that the council were trying to force the club to cooperate with their plans for a new stadium at Wilford. Although a compromise rent of £22,000 per year was agreed, the delay meant that Forest had in the meantime turned their attention to replacing the Colwick Road Terrace at the other end of the ground.
The first major development took place in 1992–93 with the rebuilding of the Bridgford Stand at a cost of £4.6m, of which £1.9m came from a grant from the Football Trust. Work started in April 1992 and when completed the Stand had a capacity of 7,710, the lower tier of 5,131 being allocated to away supporters. The unusual shape of the roof was a planning requirement to allow sunlight to reach houses in nearby Colwick Road. The Stand includes accommodation for 70 wheelchair supporters. It also houses a management suite, which includes the public address systems, computerised electronic scoreboard controls and the police matchday operation.
The Trent End was the most recent stand to be rebuilt between 1994 and 1996 — in time for Euro 96, the European Football Championships. The new stand, such a prominent landmark by the River Trent, held 7,338 to take the ground's capacity to 30,576 all-seated. The last day of standing on the Trent End was 8 May 1994, when 27,010 spectators saw Forest celebrate promotion back to the Premier League.
The ground would be able to expand to up to 46,000 if ever there was ever a return to the top flight. Forest were relegated from the FA Premier League three times between 1993 and 1999. Although they achieved promotion at the first attempt following the first two relegations, it was to be 23 years following their relegation in 1999 before they would return to the Premier League in 2022, and they even spent three seasons in League One – English football's third tier.
The City Ground also hosted the FA Women's Cup Final for two successive years in 2007 and 2008. The 2007 final was contested by Arsenal L.F.C. and Charlton Athletic L.F.C. with the attendance of 24,529 smashing the previous record attendance for the competition of 13,824 for the final between Arsenal L.F.C. and Fulham L.F.C. at Selhurst Park in 2001. In 2008, the attendance record was broken once again when 24,582 spectators saw Arsenal L.F.C. beat Leeds United 4–1.
Aside from football, the stadium has also hosted two other large-scale events. On 28 April 2002 the stadium hosted a semi-final of rugby's Heineken Cup in which Leicester Tigers beat Llanelli Scarlets 13–12. Leicester Tigers once again played at City Ground when they were defeated 19-16 by Racing 92 on 24 April 2016 in the semi-final of the European Rugby Champions Cup. The stadium hosted its first music concert when R.E.M. performed there in front of an audience of 20,000.
In 2007 the club announced plans to build a new stadium with a capacity of up to 50,000 in Clifton on the south-western outskirts of Nottingham, arguing that the cost of expanding the City Ground would be prohibitive, and that with £45m-£50m of funding from the public and private sectors a new ground could be built by 2014. The move was planned to coincide with the extension of the Nottingham Express Transit to the area and the expansion of the nearby A453 link to the M1 motorway, promising a "dramatic new gateway" to the city, including additional housing and commercial development. The plan was opposed by local residents, however, and criticised by fans as an attempt to deflect attention from the fact the club had been relegated to League One. After the developers decided against proceeding a new proposal was announced in 2008 for a 50,000 seat "super stadium" costing £100m near the National Watersports Centre at Holme Pierrepont, to form part of England's 2018 FIFA World Cup bid. The club argued that the main stand at the City Ground could be developed to provide a capacity of 37,000, but that access problems would mean that the venue would never qualify to hold World Cup or other international matches. The new stadium would have required a new bridge to be built over the River Trent and extensive engineering to overcome the risk from its location on a floodplain, but was abandoned as it was felt it would face significant local opposition.
Further development of the City Ground was ruled out in 2009 by Nottingham City Council, who owned the land the ground was built on, and in September a new plan was unveiled to build a 45,000 seater stadium for the 2018 World Cup close to the A52 at Gamston, with the club arguing that "exhaustive studies of the existing City Ground have shown it is impossible to transform the ground into a fully compliant FIFA stadium". The capacity of the new stadium was planned to be reduced to 38,000 with the removal of temporary seating after the World Cup. The proposal was hit by opposition from local residents and political wrangling, with Nottinghamshire County Council withdrawing support from the bid shortly before it was submitted, claiming that not enough consideration had been given to redeveloping the City Ground and objecting to the proposal to build 4,000 homes on greenbelt land. FIFA's technical requirements had been the driving force behind the proposal and the failure of England's World Cup bid in 2010 threw new stadium plans into doubt.
After the 2012 takeover Forest's new owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi announced long term plans to build a new stadium away from the City Ground, but stated that the short term priority was to renovate and refurbish the existing ground. In December two new big screens were installed, one between the Trent End and the Brian Clough Stand and the other to the rear of the Lower Bridgford Stand, together with LED advertising boards around the pitch in a project costing more than £1m. In October 2015 the Main Stand was renamed in honour of Nottingham-born European Cup-winning former assistant manager Peter Taylor. Following issues with the ground's safety certificate, the capacity of the stadium was reduced to 24,357 ahead of the 2016–17 season. By the time of the Hasawis' sale of the club in 2017 the City Ground was criticised by the Nottingham Post for having "started to fall into a state of decay" and being "tired, dishevelled, sad and like nobody really cared any more". Refurbishment work was carried out in the summer of 2017 under new owner Evangelos Marinakis, including improved dressing rooms and new dugouts with cushioned seats, alongside more general maintenance work to the wider stadium. In 2019 the club secured a 250-year extension of their lease on the City Ground from Nottingham City Council, enabling them to move forward with redevelopment plans including the rebuilding of the Peter Taylor stand, improvements to the Bridgford and Brian Clough Stands, and development of the wider Trentside area.
On 28 February 2019 the club confirmed an extended lease on the City Ground, allowing it to proceed with plans to redevelop the stadium and surrounding area. Central to this will be the replacement of the current Peter Taylor Stand with a new 10,000-seater stand, and improvements to the Trentside area, Brian Clough and Bridgford Stands.
The new Peter Taylor Stand will see the introduction of a museum, new club shop, executive boxes, and a range of hospitality lounge options and restaurants. The new, modern, state-of-the-art structure will see the City Ground's capacity become the highest in the East Midlands, reaching 38,000 after completion.
The club was hopeful that building work would commence at the end of the 2019–20 season. However, the redevelopment plans were temporarily put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 1 June 2021, Nottingham Forest submitted a revised planning application with residential development plans tweaked to appease planners. After a lengthy delay, on 28 July 2022, planning permission was granted by Rushcliffe Borough Council.
UEFA Euro 1996 matches
The following games were played at the City Ground during the opening phase of the UEFA Euro 96 tournament.
|11 June 1996||Turkey||0–1||Croatia||Group D|
|14 June 1996||Portugal||1–0||Turkey|
|19 June 1996||Croatia||0–3||Portugal|
Notes and references
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- "Nottingham Forest Case Study". adi.tv. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
- "History of The City Ground". Nottingham Forest Football Club. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
- "Club Records". Nottingham Forest Football Club. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
- "31May91 UK: TAYLOR WOODROW TO BUILD NEW STAND FOR NOTTINGHAM FOREST FOOTBALL CLUB". Construction News. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
- "Football is top of the league for the construction industry. Ground rebuilding keeps the hard-hit sector busy". The Herald Scotland. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
- Westby, Martin (2019). England's oldest football clubs 1815-1889: a new chronological classification of early football (folk, school, military, county, rugby, & association). Sheffield: Martin Westby. p. 416. ISBN 9780955637834.
Nottingham Forest FC, World's Oldest League Club
- Brown, Paul (July 2019). "Birth certificate: Stoke City and Nottingham Forest locked in "oldest club" debate". When Saturday Comes. When Saturday Comes Limited. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
But the Football League backed Metcalf, confirming in a statement that Forest are the oldest League club, and that information online regarding Stoke’s formation is incorrect.
- Turner 1965, pp. 9–10.
- Wright 2015, p. 17.
- Wright 2015, p. 60.
- Attaway 1991, p. 38.
- Turner 1965, p. 25.
- Wright 2015, p. 23.
- Mellor 1986, p. 11.
- Wright 2015, p. 26.
- Wright 2015, p. 27.
- Inglis 1996, p. 274.
- Lenton LHS 1990.
- "On this day: the final Football League match at Trent Bridge". Trent Bridge. Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club. 16 April 2020. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- Attaway 1991, pp. 38–39.
- Dawes 2017, p. 214.
- Turner 1965, p. 28.
- Turner 1965, p. 29.
- Mellor 1986, p. 23.
- Inglis 1996, p. 276.
- "History of the City Ground". Official Website of Nottingham Forest Football Club. Nottingham Forest Football Club. Retrieved 20 February 2022.
- Dawes 2017, pp. 223–224.
- Dawes 2017, p. 224.
- Dawes 2017, pp. 222–223.
- Dawes 2017, p. 247.
- Turner 1965, p. 33.
- Turner 1965, p. 30.
- Inglis 1996, p. 273.
- "Undefined Headline". Nottingham Post. 27 September 2014. pp. 20–21. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
- Turner 1965, p. 31.
- "MADELEY OUT OF ENGLISH TEAM". The Herald. Glasgow. 8 December 1967. p. 6. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- Turner 1965, pp. 31–32.
- "The day fire ripped through City Ground". The Nottingham Post. London: Trinity Mirror plc. 10 December 2009. Archived from the original on 21 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
- "On this day: the final Football League match at Trent Bridge". Trent Bridge. Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club. 16 April 2020. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
- Inglis 1996, p. 275.
- Inglis 1996, pp. 275–276.
- "Forest fans 'furious' over seating changes". BBC News. 22 May 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- "City Ground, Nottingham - 6th July - R.E.M. summer shows 2005". efestivals.co.uk. 13 July 2005. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- "Forest consider City Ground exit". BBC News. BBC. 20 June 2007. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- "Villagers oppose Forest stadium". BBC News. BBC. 21 June 2007. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- Cooper, Barry (9 August 2017). "Nottingham Forest talking point: Should a new stadium be back on the City Ground agenda?". Nottingham Post. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- "Forest consider new stadium site". BBC News. BBC. 5 September 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- "Stadium plan faces flood concerns". BBC News. BBC. 8 September 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- Whitfield, David (29 June 2018). "The giant Robin Hood statue, the 600ft skyscraper and more grand schemes that never happened". Nottingham Post. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- "Nottingham Forest owners consider new stadium". BBC News. BBC. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- "World Cup stadium plan unveiled". BBC News. BBC. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- "Nottingham stadium plan hit by World Cup blow". BBC News. BBC. 2 December 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- Nicholson, Fraser (9 December 2012). "Work in Progress". Official Website of Nottingham Forest Football Club. Nottingham Forest Football Club. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- Solomon, George (2 October 2015). "A wonderful gesture". Official Website of Nottingham Forest Football Club. Nottingham Forest Football Club. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- "Nottingham Forest: Championship club have their capacity reduced by 20%". BBC Sport. 26 July 2016.
- Cooper, Barry (25 July 2017). "Take a look at Nottingham Forest's plush new dugouts". Nottingham Post. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- "Nottingham Forest secure new 250-year lease on the City Ground". Sky Sports. Sky UK. 18 June 2019. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- "City Ground redevelopment – what you need to know". Cartwright. 1 May 2019. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
- "Major Redevelopment of the City Ground". Nottingham Forest Football Club. 28 February 2019.
- Taylor, Paul. "Lamouchi exclusive: 'I will not forget the pain after Stoke but it can help me'". The Athletic. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
- "Forest have 'solid grounds for optimism' on City Ground planning approval". 4 March 2022.
- "Nottingham Forest stadium redevelopment plan approved". BBC News. 28 July 2022.
- Attaway, Pete (1991). Nottingham Forest: A Complete Record, 1865-1991. Derby: Breedon Books Sport. ISBN 090796995X.
- Dawes, Andrew (2017). The Origins and Development of Association Football in Nottinghamshire c.1860-1915 (PhD). De Montfort University. Retrieved 20 February 2022.
- Inglis, Simon (1996). "Nottingham Forest". Football Grounds of Britain. London: HarperCollins. pp. 273–277. ISBN 0002184265.
- "Nottingham Forest and Lenton". Lenton Times. No. 4. Lenton Local History Society. June 1990. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
- Mellor, Keith (1986). Forest Road: Pictorial Milestones of the Garibaldi Reds. Nottingham: Temple Printing. ISBN 9781870010009.
- Turner, A. J. (1965). The Hundred Years Story of the Nottingham Forest Football Club: 1865 - 1965. Nottingham: Nottingham Forest Football Club. OCLC 668119479.
- Wright, Don (2015). Forever Forest: The Official 150th Anniversary History of the Original Reds. Stroud: Amberley Publishing. ISBN 9781445661315.