Weekend of wooing for Forest as rival suitors press claims

The bid battle for Nottingham Forest enters a new phase this weekend as the two rival consortia prepare to meet the club's shareholders and supporters.

The Albert Scardino consortium will meet the supporters' association on Sunday and has arranged a dinner to meet shareholders at the club's City ground on Monday evening.

The meetings will be hosted by Sir David White, chairman of Mansfield Brewery and the Nottinghamshire Health Authority who Mr Scardino this week recruited to be club chairman if the bid is successful.

Mr Scardino has also confirmed that he will be using Jonathan Barnett, the sports agent whose clients include West Indian cricketer Brian Lara, as a football adviser if the bid is successful. If the bid is successful Mr Barnett will be paid a fee for helping introduce Mr Scardino to Mercury Asset Management, which sponsors Lara. However, he will receive no shares in the club.

The Scardino consortium hopes at the weekend to persuade shareholders of the merits of its offer ahead of the crunch emergency meeting to decide the future ownership of the club on 24 February.

Sir David White, who is a shareholder in Forest as well as an enthusiastic supporter of the club, said yesterday: "I have been very impressed by the way this bid is being handled. What Nottingham Forest needs is professional management to back up the hard work being done in the pitch."

The rival group bidding for Forest led by Nigel Wray and local author Phil Soar is also due to meet shareholders and supporters over the next few days.

Supporters are keen for the ownership of the club to be resolved as Forest continues to languish near the bottom of the Premiership.