Nigel Doughty: Businessman and football club owner


Twin imperatives drove the public life of Nigel Doughty. A venture capitalist who was co-founder of Europe's largest private equity firm, he also espoused left-of-centre views that inspired a strong charitable zeal. The fusion of finance and philanthropy found an expression in his ownership of Nottingham Forest football club, a lifelong passion that was soured in the months before his death.

According to last May's Sunday Times Rich List, Doughty's net worth of £130m made him the 537th wealthiest person in Britain. Yet he often took the train to attend Forest matches and chatted to supporters on the walk to the City Ground, his conspicuous height making it impossible for him to avoid recognition even if he had wanted to.

He also featured in the ST Giving List, which ranks the 50 people who have donated the highest proportion of their wealth to charity. The £3.8m he gave in the year to last May included £1m each to the NSPCC and Newark Hospital, where his late mother Mercia worked. A stronger advocate of social justice, Doughty also donated £1m during that period to the Labour Party, earning second place in the list of individuals making political donations.

The money he ploughed into Forest, whom he had supported since childhood after being born in Newark-on-Trent, came in the form of loans totalling £75.6m since 1999, when he paid £11m for control of the financially stricken club. He said he saw the outlay as a "community investment", adding: "If I was a financially sophisticated person and I was expecting my money back, I'd probably need certifying."

If the expenditure was intended to restore Brian Clough's old club to the Premier League, it was unsuccessful. The former European champions even slipped into League One, the English game's third tier, for three seasons. Doughty, who became chairman in 2001, appointed a succession of "permanent" managers. The sixth, Billy Davies, was sacked last summer after two consecutive failures in the play-offs for promotion from the Championship.

The tenure of Steve McClaren, the former England manager, would break the impasse, though not in the way Doughty hoped. McClaren lasted only 111 days before resigning after a home defeat by Birmingham. Vehement abuse from sections of the crowd prompted Doughty to step down as chairman, though he remained owner, and he did not return to watch another game. With honesty unusual for a director in today's football, he owned up to a "very poor decision" in appointing McClaren.

Despite his wounded retreat, he put funding in place to ensure Forest's ability to trade for the next two and half years. His last gesture was to pay Portsmouth £200,000 to buy out Steve Cotterill's contract as manager, but Forest continue to struggle in 23rd place. Doughty's son Michael, 19, is a midfielder with Queens Park Rangers who is currently on loan to Crawley Town.

His business career began after a Masters in Business Administration at Cranfield University. In 1984 he was a founding member of the management buy-out unit of Standard Chartered Bank, where he met Richard Hanson. In 1990 they formed CWB Partners, a private-equity joint venture between Standard Chartered and Westdeutsche Landesbank, establishing Doughty Hanson & Co as an independent firm in 1995.

The group has its headquarters in London and offices throughout Europe. Its assets are valued at £8bn, and Doughty chaired the investment committee of all Doughty Hanson's private equity, real estate and technology venture funds. Its Pall Mall offices also became home to the Doughty Hanson Charitable Foundation, run by Doughty, Dick Hanson and a committee comprising members of staff. It supported around 200 charities. He also provided £3m to Cranfield's School of Management to fund a Centre for Corporate Responsibility, explaining that his "whole career" had been "built on what I did there". He called it "a way of giving something back".

Doughty, who died in his gym at home, had donated £3.5m to Labour over the past seven years, leading its Small Business Taskforce and serving as an assistant treasurer since 2009. The party leader, Ed Miliband, described him as "a kind, generous man with a deep desire to make the world a better place". A message on one of the floral tributes left in the snow at Nottingham Forest read simply: "Our latter day Robin Hood. RIP."

Nigel Doughty, businessman and philanthropist: born Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire 10 June 1957; married 1985 Carol Green (divorced 1997; one son, one daughter), 2004 Lucy Vasquez (two sons); died Skillington, Lincolnshire 4 February 2012.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam