Evangelos Marinakis granted an exclusive and wide-ranging interview to the Daily Mail, which was published on Tuesday, speaking about his involvement with Nottingham Forest F.C., his reasons for choosing the team, its course and his ambitious future plans.

At the same time, he referred to recent officiating mistakes that damaged Forest, a point-deduction sanction by the Premier League and his specific criticism of Sky Sports and Gary Neville.

Marinakis also opened up about his personal belief, stressing that “people say you learn from your defeats – but I want victories not defeats,’ as he explained. ‘I don’t want to learn from defeats. I want to keep winning.”

‘I’ve always liked Forest…I have the biggest team in Greece’

The conversation almost immediately turned to Nottingham Forest and how he became involved with the club, where he immediately answered:

“Brian Clough, John Robertson, Stuart Pearce, Roy Keane, Trevor Francis, the European Cups, I know the history,” he replies. “For me, having owned the biggest team in Greece, if I invested in England I wanted to invest in an equally big team.  A team that has big crowds and a big supporter base. But also I’ve always liked Forest. When I first came to the UK when I was 15 years old, I always remember it was the time Liverpool and Forest were doing extremely well. I don’t see it as money, or a transaction. For me, it is our duty to revive our history.”

Moving on, Evangelos Marinakis was directly asked about a claim citing an “incident” between him and referee Paul Tierney, during his club’s match against Liverpool FC, to which he immediately responded:

“’I didn’t storm on the pitch to confront the referee, all this was in the imagination of Sky and the others that said this. I was there to show unity with the team, as I have done many times in the past, after a terrible (refereeing) decision. I was just standing outside the tunnel, the referee walked past and I didn’t even look at him. That’s why the Premier League never even questioned me about this.”

Praised for his “fingerprints (being) all over his club” when other Premier League owners are absent, he said: “I have attended over 100 games at the City Ground or away and we never had any incident. We’ve won and lost games – big games – but we have always had an excellent reputation. Even the Key Match Incidents panel admits that we’ve had seven wrong decisions against us and there’s another nine to my count not admitted.”

Marinakis was subsequently asked about the charge made by Forest against Stuart Attwell, who had been appointed as the match VAR in Nottingham’s game against Everton, and the fact that the latter is a Luton Town fan, against which Forest is fighting against to avoid relegation – and who, therefore, should have been recused from the specific game.

“The truth is this specific referee is well known to be a Luton fan – and no doubt declared his interest to PGMOL, as all of them have to. In my opinion, the PGMOL should not have selected him for this match. Luton were directly below Forest at that time. In the final relegation place in eighteenth position. The match against Everton was hugely important for the club’s survival in the Premier League. The PGMOL should not have risked even the suspicion or perception of any bias, even unconscious bias. To be clear, we don’t expect to dictate or to impose a change to the PGMOL or Premier League but it is our duty to warn of a situation and be proactive. If this is crime…”

The reporter taking the interview continues to broach this issue and asks about the fact that Howard Webb, the head of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), admitted that at least one spot-kick should have been awarded to Forest at Everton.

“’There were three undisputed penalties – not one. We have the analysis from trusted experts to prove it,” Marinakis emphasized.

‘Neville comment about the club outrageous, but the FA have done nothing’

The interview continued on the subject of officiating, as well as over the now tenuous relations between Forest and Sky Sports, as well as possible legal measures against Gary Neville.

“We made this announcement because we tried to protect and then there is a big fuss – but that was made from Sky Sports and specific guys…I can bring you 100 examples of times they exaggerated, didn’t say the truth and humiliated people. Neville is subject to FA rules too, surely – he is a director of Salford FC. His comment about the club was outrageous, but the FA have done nothing. I need to be careful – because our lawyers have already been in contact with Sky regarding Neville and this is not over yet. The comments and words he used were inappropriate, didn’t correspond with reality and harmed people,” Marinakis characteristically said, adding:

“I am very concerned about this and still considering and discussing with the board what would be the appropriate course of action, including legal measures.”

Evangelos Marinakis: ‘In my view the Premier League was very strict towards us, and the points deduction that they sought – which could have lead us into relegation’

‘Current PSR seems to me to be an unfair system’

A good part of the interview also touched on the deduction of four points from the team over a breach of the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability Regulations (PSR). Marinakis not only commented on the deduction, but also pointed to the injustices of the regulation.

“The current PSR seems to me to be an unfair system that doesn’t match the reality of global standards in football… It’s a system that over the years has allowed changes in ownership to give opportunities for significant increases in spending, not reflected by statements of revenue and without exposure to any sanctions,” he said, adding:

‘I drove Forest back to the Premier League after 23 years and had to invest in order to create a competitive and sustainable club. This was for the benefit of the Premier League. I did it in a transparent way, without trying to inflate our revenues. I did it by investing in players whose values would increase in the future. This was the only way to create a fully financially sustainable club – which is supposed to be the goal of PSR. We did not obscure our financials or seek to inflate our revenues. We were open and fair. Our only problem was that we failed to complete the sale of a key player [Brennan Johnson] until a few weeks later than needed to – for technical compliance. This was a technical breach, not a substantial breach. The club made the sale, for the right value – almost exactly as per our strategy, but later than needed for the PSR deadline.”

“In my view the Premier League was very strict towards us, and the points deduction that they sought – which could have lead us into relegation. I think what we have done, and what people don’t realise, is the selection of players, in majority, that we have signed in the last two or three years – are young, extremely talented players. Murillo, Morgan Gibbs-White, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Anthony Elanga, Danilo, Neco Williams, Taiwo Awoniyi, Nicolas Dominguez, Ibrahim Sangare, Andrew Omobamidele. We also signed Nelson Abbey for Olympiakos. They are all young, talented players that have great value. They will ensure the club assets go higher and higher. The reality is this was a wise decision, a clever decision and we see the benefits.’

‘Nottingham needed a new leader’

The last part of the interview focused on his plans for Nottingham Forest, which of course, included a reference to the stadium and training grounds for the club.

According to the Daily Mail journalist, although Evangelos Marinakis continues to pump money into the club, Forest fear they are behind many of their top-flight rivals in terms of generating the revenues it requires to make significant progress. The existing stadium is owned by the council and with negotiations to remain and expand at an impasse, Marinakis, who is acutely aware of the fans’ passion for the City Ground, is set to launch a supporter-led discussion on the matter, according to the Daily Mail.

Among the topics to be debated are likely to include the use of the City Ground for academy and women’s games.

‘At the end of the day we are winners. It’s something that has been with me in business, art, sports, daily life. I enjoy it’

However, sites have also been identified which would allow for Marinakis’ big ‘dream’ to become a reality – a fully sustainable sports village with a 50,000 state-of-the-art stadium. Most recently, a memorandum of understanding has been signed with key council partners to help the club identify suitable locations for a new training facility to accommodate the men’s, women’s and academy teams. But it is clear the future of the City Ground needs resolving, the article states.

‘For first time in history, there is a genuine chance to elevate the club to the next level of success on and off the pitch. It’ll be hard to leave City Ground, but in an age when revenue streams dictate success on the pitch, there’s no doubt moving to a bigger facility will set the club on the right path,” Nottingham Forest leader Evangelos Marinakis said.

“It will change the history in years to come of the region and the team for our supporters. It’ll be hard to leave City Ground, but in an age when revenue streams dictate success on the pitch, there’s no doubt moving to a bigger facility will set the club on the right path. Over the last 10 years, the city of Nottingham has lacked the confidence and ambition of the other big regional cities of Manchester and Birmingham. Nottingham needed a new leader to be brave, ambitious, to invest and be honest. There is no one, in the history of the county, who has invested over £250 million of their own private wealth in the county,” he underlined.

Evangelos Marinakis concluded by saying that obstacles and difficulties only make him stronger.

‘When I see decisions or actions against us that are not justified, it’s my character that I come back even harder. I’m not discouraged. It makes me stronger. At the end of the day, we are winners. It’s something that has been with me in business, art, sports, daily life. I enjoy it. ‘I enjoy the uphill, not when it’s easy. The struggle. The most fun is the chase, the way we create. I like the journey. Enjoying a victory is just for a few seconds but the journey is what I’m interested in.”