Brian Clough Trophy – The Last For Some Time?

Nottingham Forest take on Derby County tomorrow in the East Midlands Derby with both sides in brilliant form of late but a bigger twist to the latest edition is one that concerns the future of the Garibaldi’s greatest rivals.

Derby are in administration and have a 21 point deduction imposed by the Football league this season with time running out for Administrators to guarantee to the EFL that the club can play out their season without further negative financial implication.

The Rams who breached financial fair play measures in both 2019/20 and 2020/21 have until 1st February to clarify whether they have the capacity to continue in the Championship for the remainder of the season with pressure by some other clubs on the EFL to take action.

Mike Ashley, who’s Sports Direct company based in Shirebrook (under the Fraser Group umbrella), is one man known to have interest in buying the club and has regularly made a living out of doing similar with businesses in trouble, including House of Fraser and Jack Wills.

These unforgivable issues upstairs at Pride Park have now had an impact on those in the team and after Phil Jagielka was moved on to Stoke City earlier this month, the club were told by the EFL that they can no longer sign any more players until they can provide positive financial results.

With Manager Wayne Rooney interesting the attention of his former club Everton it feels an unsettled and turbulent time for all involved at Derby, not knowing if Saturday’s Brian Clough Trophy will be their last, it has led to mixed emotions from Forest fans who are largely enjoying the Rams downfall, although some concern that the Reds biggest game of the annual fixtures calendar could be under threat, if Derby are potentially expelled from the Football League, it might be some time until the two sides meet again?

Where does this leave this weekend’s game?

Nottingham Forest themselves are in pretty good form of late and are quietly looking forward to Saturday’s sell out lunchtime clash at the City Ground. Two solid but late one-nil wins in succession have given confidence ahead of the Rams clash following two previous defeats in the league over Christmas. The performance verses Arsenal drawing national attention whilst the win at Millwall, very much celebrated in-house as one of those ugly performances that can go a long way towards achieving end-of-season goal.

For Derby, they have secured thirteen points from their last five games which has lifted them off the bottom of the Championship table, with 26 games played and twenty still to play, the Rams are still a way from achieving mission impossible, eight points from safety, without points deduction they would be just two points behind Nottingham Forest in mid-table.

Whilst Wayne Rooney has rightly been receiving accolades for his never-say-die spirit engrained into his young energetic side, Derby remain a dangerous opponent for Forest although a win for Steve Cooper’s men could severely dent the Rams survival ambition, three points for the Reds would see Forest close the gap on the playoff race above whilst not losing, would ensure the Brian Clough Trophy stays at the City Ground a little longer yet.

And who knows? Come February, if Derby get axed by the Football League which is certainly now a distinct possibility, if they delay that fate until May and only suffer relegation to League One, if Forest do still hold the Brian Clough Trophy whatever the Rams fate unless Mission Impossible is succeeded? It can’t be can it? Then that lovely piece of silverware ribbonned with red since February 2019, could be staying in the City Ground Trophy Cabinet for a very long time indeed.

Kick off is 12:25 at the City Ground with the match live on Sky Sports. Injury concerns for Forest include the absence of Max Lowe whilst Derby will be without Polish international Krystian Bielik.

*Main image @NFFC the Brian Clough Trophy has been held by Forest for almost three years.

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