Football: That was the weekend that was

Bassett bemoans a lack of cash;
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The Independent Online
Bassett bemoans a lack of cash

All is not well with the Nottingham public and Dave Bassett, for whom it must have come as a relief to be away from home on Saturday. The Forest manager is bracing himself for a backlash after accusing City Ground supporters of harbouring a "death wish" when his side's return to the top of the First Division last week was greeted with only a lukewarm response.

Bassett complains that Forest are running a distant third to arch rivals Middlesbrough and Sunderland in terms of vocal backing and says the lack of encouragement from the stands could have a major bearing on whether his team achieve their promotion goal.

But Forest fans grumble that Forest's pricing policy - adult tickets come at a flat rate pounds 20 - explains why 10,000 City Ground seats remain empty for home matches and that those who are prepared to pay have a right to good quality football as well as good results.

They may shortly find another target for their frustration, however, given that tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the much-hyped takeover many of them believed would lead to new financial prosperity.

Forest's next opponents at the City Ground are the leaders, Middlesbrough, who splashed out almost pounds 3m last week to reinforce their promotion challenge, signing the strikers Alun Armstrong and Marco Branca and gaining an instant return on their investment when both scored in Saturday's defeat of Sunderland.

It is spending Bassett can only dream about, having been told last November that the whole of the pounds 16m injected into the club by the property tycoon Nigel Wray had been spent - two thirds of it paying off inherited debt.

"The reality is, if we do not go up, then not only will we not be buying but our best players - Pierre van Hooijdonk, Scot Gemmill and Steve Stone - will have to be sold," Bassett said.

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