Nottingham Forest supremo Marinakis 'optimistic' they will improve this season if they fix one area | The Sun

NOTTINGHAM FOREST owner Evangelos Marinakis has fully backed Steve Cooper's side and is confident this season will be an improvement.

Forest barely escaped relegation last season but sealed their Premier League status in style by ending Arsenal's title hopes with a 1-0 victory at City Ground in May.

Marinakis is very pleased with the way the Tricky Trees stood up to the Big Six, with victories over the Gunners, Liverpool and Tottenham as well as some impressive draws with Manchester City and Chelsea.

However, they dropped points against inferior competition before finishing 16th and avoiding the drop with one game to spare.

The Greek businessman is confident this season will be better despite their 2-1 loss at Arsenal in their first Prem match of the season.

So much so, he is determined to establish Forest as a genuine Premier League force, which is why he has invested heavily in the club.

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Marinakis told SunSport: "I want this club to be established in the Premier League.

"Of course we have spent a lot of money in the training centres and our stadium. Also, I bought a planning permission for our stadium and some real estate development in the region.

"What you saw last year is that Nottingham Forest, in a lot of the bigger games, they did very well. With the smaller opponents, it was not as expected. We lost some matches that we should have never have lost.

"I’m optimistic, we also stand behind our coaches and the players that this year will be improving."

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Marinakis spoke to SunSport after he helped organise the UEFA Super Cup at Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, where his other club Olympiacos play at.

The 56-year-old hosted the event alongside UEFA and saw Manchester City adding to their Treble triumph by beating Sevilla on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

The event proved to be a success with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, with whom the Forest owner had lunch before the event, as well as Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis congratulating him.

Marinakis added: "For us it was very important to organise this top event successfully. We are used to big crowds and also more difficult ones.


"At the end of the day we received a lot of congratulations from UEFA [and] the Prime Minister. They enjoyed the match and we’re quite happy. This event was very successful, it was a full stadium. We really enjoyed it.”

Following a successful Super Cup, Marinakis has hopes of bringing the Champions League Final to Karaiskakis after hosting a raft of other events in the past, such as a last-minute charity match for Ukraine in April that saw Olympiacos facing Shakhtar Donetsk.

However, the businessman concedes that this is very difficult at the moment as that will require a lot more space, even though he is planning an expansion at the ground.

Marinakis said: "For the Champions League final, they need a stadium with bigger hospitality spaces. Because hospitality is a must in this situation. Karaiskaki has 41 suites and we have a plan to expand Karaiskaki.

"What was important today was that the organisers were Karaiskaki Inc, Olympiacos and UEFA – there was no [Greek] federation at all. We organised it together with UEFA, and you see the result."

Marinakis is fully committed to Forest, but also has a vision of transforming Greek football by adopting elements from the Premier League and is planning to start straight away after being voted as the Superleague's president for the next two seasons.

The Forest and Olympiacos owner met Ceferin alongside Panathinaikos, AEK Athens and PAOK officials to discuss issues surrounding the league, such as violent incidents following the death of Michalis Katsouris outside OPAP Arena in Nea Filadelfeia.

Marinakis said: "The problem right now with Greek football is the federation that is not able to cope with the current challenges. People that are involved have nothing to do with professional football. And this is a very big problem. This also creates violence and various [other] problems in Greek football.

"For us who have invested heavily on players, infrastructure, stadiums, training grounds – and we’re talking a lot to improve and promote the brand – it’s a problem. Because also two years ago there was an agreement with the Prime Minister and the President of UEFA and they signed a memorandum of strict guidelines for Greek football.

"And what that said is that we need to have professional refereeing. And it was my proposal as the president of the Greek Superleague to copy the model of the Premier League with professional refereeing and it was something that worked very well in England. And what we said is, copy the exact same [way].

"For us it is a must to do this and also have a professional committee that decides for the future of professional [Greek] football. And instead of doing this, this [current] committee has a minority vote and in any case doesn’t make any sense.

"Olympiacos for example – the transfer fees that you pay to the federation when you sell players or when you buy players – we are the main income providers of the federation and so far we haven’t received any statements. There’s no transparency.

"Today [Wednesday] we had a meeting, the four big teams with the Prime Minister and Mr Ceferin about the future of Greek football and one of the topics was violence.

"What we said was that in Greece the police should be able to examine the supporters that come to the stadium because so far this is not the case and the security companies are not allowed to do it.

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"So what we said is that this should be implemented from the government – we will support it in order to give an end to violence and have zero tolerance. But also it’s important to be able to develop Greek football.

"Unless we have these changes immediately, that have already been agreed, we will not see a bright future. So I hope, even after today’s meeting, that very soon there will be changes for the good of Greek football."

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