Nottingham Forest chairman Nicholas Randall QC has praised the Reds’ “incredible” fanbase, but warned them against running onto the pitch after Tuesday’s play-off semi-final against Sheffield United.
Steve Cooper’s side take a 2-1 lead into the second-leg of the play-off semi-final after winning at Bramall Lane on Saturday, and chairman Randall says he has been “inspired” by the Reds’ brilliant support this season.
In an open letter to supporters on the day of Forest’s play-off clash with Sheffield United, Randall said: “What has been truly inspiring to us all is not just the numbers of you that have come and supported your team both at home and away but also in the manner and way in which you have done so.
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“You have oozed class and style not only in your songs, the noise generated and your celebrations but also in your conduct and the brilliance of your displays. You are genuinely unique. In acting as you do you honor the history of your great club as pioneers showing respect for the game of football and the opponent but at the same time giving no quarter and showing fear of no one.
“Tonight we play another fixture at the City Ground. We are humbled to know that you will be there yet again in your thousands. We promise you that everyone within the club will be doing all they can to make this another night of celebration in this season’s journey.
“However I can assure you that we are taking nothing for granted and even if we get the result we all wish for tonight we will remain grounded and respectful as we will still have won nothing. So what I am about to say implies no assumptions as to the result tonight.
“As one of you has mentioned we are “mid battle” and have won nothing until the final result is known. We agree.”
Should Forest win their play-off clash with Sheffield United tonight, it will confirm the Reds’ place at Wembley Stadium for the Championship play-off final. It would be the club’s first-ever trip to the new national stadium, but Randall has urged supporters to be responsible and remain in the City Ground stands regardless of the result.
Over the last few weeks, Huddersfield Town supporters burst onto the John Smiths Stadium’s pitch after their late win against Luton Town to reach the play-off final whilst supporters of Fulham and Bournemouth ran onto the playing surface to celebrate their promotion to the Premier League.
Discussing this, Randall said: “Against this background and after the events elsewhere last night (at Huddersfield) I would like to make a plea to you as regards the game tonight. I know that the huge majority of you, as the spontaneous messaging on social media has shown, do not want to see any supporters invade the pitch when the game is done.
“There are many reasons for this but I need to add the specific requests of the club for you not to do so. Any incursion on the pitch will put at risk the ability of the other supporters within the stadium to pay their respects to the team and staff for the efforts of this season.
“This applies whether we win, lose or draw. In the event of a positive result tonight we will also need the fantastic playing surface to remain in perfect condition so that the City Ground can remain as an option for us as a potentially important training facility over the next 12 days.
“A pitch incursion will put this seriously at risk. It also goes without saying that all the players and officials are entitled to a safe exit from the field of play at the final whistle and we must ensure that this is the case. So on behalf of everyone at the club I ask you to please respect the players and staff, the occasion, the pitch and most of all your fellow supporters and remain in the stands regardless of the outcome.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.