Mark Arthur gets a lot of stick from Forest fans, in fact scratch that, a lot doesn’t describe the absolute tonnage of stick this single person gets.
Bear in mind he does have a catalogue of errors in his past and perhaps you can understand why. It mainly boils down to him being the face and voice as it was of the Doughty regime. Doughty provided the money and Arthur did the leg work with it. Negotiations, wrangling, alongside John Pelling.
This is where that dislike comes from. So many alleged deals breaking down in negotiations, misguided PR work. I think the most obvious cases were the “We’re Serious About Promotion” campaign which allegedly was his brainchild and shocked and appalled Doughty to see it after he came back from holiday. You don’t promise the world, and then deliver nothing.
The shambles surrounding the Whittingham and Pratley situation wasn’t great either. However, it was a double edged sword. For one you get criticised for showing lack of ambition for not going for said players, it was well known these were our prime targets. His radio Nottingham interview when he revealed we were in negotiations and he assumed they’d be Forest players by end of week or so was the not so clever part. At first I thought fair enough, he’s told us what we want to hear. He has reacted to the dismay at the lack of communication by communicating directly. However, the manner of how it was handled was shocking.
Unsurprisingly Swansea and Cardiff reacted badly to the news we said their best players were coming to us. This made any negotiation anything but impossible. He had cut his nose off to spite his face. I don’t know if he has received any PR guidance on this matter, but it was really the last vestiges of credibility amongst fans being wiped away in one fell swoop. Whittingham and Pratley never arrived. Was this directly his fault? Would they have signed had he not gone on the radio? We will never know however it apparent his efforts had made getting these players exponentially harder.
There are plenty of other stories that do the rounds that can be barely confirmed, but sound credible enough and is that common knowledge that there cannot be smoke without fire. The Wayne Routledge negotiations where he arrived in Nottingham having verbally agreed a deal for £x amount, only for Arthur to produce a contract to sign for around 25% less as a subtle negotiation tool. That isn’t going to go down well with anyone and smacks of amateurism. There is no wonder he went to Swansea instead.
Now he is getting stick for apparently having said the takeover was imminent, and now saying it isn’t there yet. Fans took to Twitter to chastise and berate him again. Except this one isn’t his fault. He never said Imminent. The Pye’s our new sponsors let that cat the bag. Now of course in the usual Forest witch hunt where the fans need a scapegoat for absolutely everything that goes wrong, they say he should have shut him up, Arthur probably told him it’s that close. Well that’s conjecture, you don’t know. Arthur may well have said that the takeovers close in privacy but to be fair to the man he never said that fateful word Imminent. Now most will gloss over this bit. I’m not absolving the man I am merely pointing out you can’t pin this one on him.
Think about all the catalogue of errors above. Not one of them was designed around harming the club. It’s just been a Boris Johnson esque blunder. Now agreed we don’t need the, but each and every time he acted in the best interests. Trying to curry more season ticket sales by saying we will go up. I have no doubt we were serious about promotion, it’s just we signed rubbish players. That’s as much Kinnears fault. As said the Whittingham and Pratley negotiations were a disaster, but he was trying to instil us with enthusiasm and pointing out our ambitious targets. The Routledge story is simply that he thought he could get Routledge for cheaper. If it succeeded not a bad thing.
We rarely pay over the odds for a player, that’s been a trump card. Whether this summer something changed in allowing McClaren's targets to cost us more I don’t know, but in the past I can’t recall too many signings other than McGoldrick which have been utter flops for quite a while. And on paper he was a marvellous signing.
So yeah he’s made some bad decisions, and probably there are better candidates. And if a new regime comes in he will be swept aside. He won’t be missed. But what I am trying to say after seeing some pure vitriol directed his way is that no he’s not the monster he is painted to be. He has not single handedly tried to bring Forest down. He’s just been a little misguided and wrong in what he has done. Enough to be replaced? Certainly. Enough to be vilified? No.