Rishi Sunak backs Nottingham Forest’s county-wide community health initiative

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has given his “absolute, full support” to a new county-wide community health initiative launched on Friday by Nottingham Forest.

Club owner Evangelos Marinakis welcomed Sunak to the City Ground as Forest announced their project, A New Vision For Sport, in front of local businessmen and dignitaries.

Forest hope to unite professional and semi-professional sports clubs across the county and will conduct a comprehensive review of Nottinghamshire’s sporting facilities.

Speaking at the launch, Sunak said: “I think Nottingham Forest and E.ON’s initiative to get everyone in Nottinghamshire – regardless of their age – out playing sport for an hour a week is a fantastic campaign and it’s a real example of the good that a club really grounded in its community can do.

“Nottinghamshire will be a happier and healthier place because of this initiative.

“Indeed bringing together all the sports clubs in Nottinghamshire to not just promote sport, but to provide a pathway into professional sport for children who have got the talent and dedication is also a great idea.

“And one that may just quicken Nottingham Forest’s return to being a European footballing powerhouse once again. This initiative has my absolute, full support.”

Greek businessman Marinakis, who became Forest’s owner in 2017, said: “Whatever is needed in order to make this project a success, whatever investment is required, I am personally committed to do so for this region.

“I am particularly proud that we can contribute to a project which can change the futures of our children and everyone in this region.

“I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his support and all those who will contribute towards making this project a success.”

The club said A New Vision For Sport “champions the collaboration between the public and private sector across Nottinghamshire, including its professional and semi-professional sports clubs, local councils, higher education institutions and commercial entities”.

Forest added: “It recognises the pivotal role of sports clubs in fostering greater equality, diversity and inclusion and promoting the benefits of an active lifestyle to improve health outcomes in the region.”

The club’s chairman Tom Cartledge told the PA news agency: “When the idea came about, the Prime Minister’s office was made aware and he thought it was a great initiative that he wanted to support, so we’re delighted he’s here today.”

Cartledge said Marinakis was “absolutely adamant that the project of Nottingham Forest was not just about on the field, but off the field as well”.

“He has committed financial support to whatever reasonable level to ensure that the initiative happens,” Cartledge said.

“He’s absolutely passionate as a family man that the kids of Nottinghamshire feel the energy that Premier League football brings to the city.”

Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis has been Forest's owner since 2017
Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis has been Forest’s owner since 2017 (Mike Egerton/PA)

Forest were docked four points for breaching Premier League financial rules earlier this week and dropped into the relegation zone.

When asked if they would be launching an appeal against the punishment, Cartledge said: “At the moment we’re digesting the points deduction.

“We’ve got a big game against Crystal Palace to win (on March 30) and that’s what we’re focusing on.”