Garry Birtles: Nottingham Forest must look to the future, but don't forget the past
I KNOW that, when I turn up for a game, even if it is only the occasional visit, I will be given a warm welcome.
Both the club staff and the coaching staff are always happy to see you; always treat you with respect.
Even the fans are a friendly bunch, who will engage you in a little cheeky banter about the old days.
What might surprise you is that I am talking about Derby County, the arch-rivals of the club that I spent the majority of my career playing for.
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Unfortunately, when it comes to that club, the story is not quite the same.
Because I get a warmer welcome at Derby than I do at Nottingham Forest.
Which is why I was not surprised to see Frank Clark treated so shabbily.
In the case of the club's new owners, you would like to presume it is simple naivety; that they do not know any better.
But it has been a familiar tale for more than a decade.
Ex-players have not been treated well by Forest for a long time. You are made to feel like a nuisance.
Go to Manchester United, Liverpool, West Brom, Leeds . . . virtually any club across the country and you will see a host of former players at the club on a match day.
They are invited to games; they are embraced as part of the club's history.
Talk to many of Forest's former players and they will tell you the same thing. You can actually feel uncomfortable going back to the City Ground.
Not welcomed, not wanted . . . just tolerated, almost.
Frequently, since their arrival from Kuwait, the Al Hasawi's have spoken about wanting to restore the former glories of the Brian Clough era.
They say they would take great pride in steering the club back into the top flight.
There is nothing I would like to see more. Nothing would make me happier than seeing Forest win promotion under Alex McLeish.
And now is the time to look forward, rather than backwards.
You don't have to be obsessed with the past.
But that does not mean you should ignore it; that you should show it so little respect.
Frank Clark is a gentleman. He is somebody who has dedicated a large part of his career to helping Forest be a success, as a player, a manager, a chairman and, most recently, as a club ambassador.
So he deserved better than to be told his contribution is no longer required by letter.
He deserved better than being put on gardening leave – a legal side effect of which is that he cannot legally go to the City Ground on a match day or any other day.
As I said, I hope it is naivety from the new owners; I hope that it is a careless decision; one made without thought given to the consequences.
I'll be honest. I can accept the decision to part company with Mark Arthur, the chief executive.
A new broom sweeps clean and when new owners came in, it was always likely that they would have their own ideas about running the club.
I can even understand that, for similar reasons, there is a certain logic to moving on Keith Burt, the head of recruitment.
Although I have to say the timing of it all is utter madness.
As is the fact that it seems McLeish, the manager of the club, was not briefed or asked his opinion over massive decisions that will hugely influence his job.
Now, with seven days to go until the end of the transfer window, the three or four major additions that McLeish craved have thus far not arrived.
That can be explained away by the simple nature of the January transfer window, the balance of which is tipped entirely in the favour of the selling club.
If you have a player who is in demand, you are always going to leave it until the last possible moment, in an effort to get the best deal for him.
But the situation off the pitch at Forest cannot have helped hugely. And not just because they have parted company with the two main figures involved in player recruitment.
Look at it this way. If you were a player and you had the chance to join different two clubs; one of those has just sacked their manager, at a time when his side was a point off the play-off places, then dispensed of their chief executive and head of recruitment, along with a club favourite and stalwart.
The other club, well, hasn't. They are stable and free from controversy.
Which would you join, if the money being offered from both clubs was similar?
I am sure the decisions from the Al Hasawi family have been made with good intentions.
I'll even give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that they did not realise the fallout that would follow their clumsy handling of their attempts to move Clark on.
They are foreign owners who are probably still coming to terms with the nuances of British football and, in particular, Nottingham Forest.
But, if they do genuinely want to restore the glories of the Clough era, then hopefully they will realise that it is also important to embrace the past.