Paul Taylor: An embarrassing week, but not the end of the world for Nottingham Forest
TONIGHT, at midnight, according to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, the world will end.
Whether it is an impending collision with a mystery planet or earth being sucked into a black hole, many have predicted that the end of the world is nigh.
On the plus side, it would help me avoid buying a round at the sports desk Christmas do tomorrow.
But, unfortunately, I expect that I will still have to reach for my wallet at some point and dust off the cobwebs.
Those ancient predictions from more than a 1,000 years ago are unlikely to come true. The world will keep turning and the journalists will keep drinking.
Equally, as Nottingham Forest fans look forward to 2013, they can rest assured that the bleak predictions made by a few modern-day prophets from across the East Midlands, following a testing week for the club, are also unlikely to prove to have much foundation.
While rival fans of Derby County, Leicester City and Notts County reveled in the prospect of a financial meltdown at the City Ground, they are the ones who are likely to be disappointed.
That is not to say the reports of a few embarrassing financial incidents were not true. They were. They were not without foundation; they were not misguided predictions. They were fact.
Money was owed to agents and suppliers. There were issues with credit card payments.
The bills had been allowed to mount up – and it left a few people with red faces, particularly after the issues had been made public.
But, just like those people who have misread the ancient predictions of the Mayan civilisation, reading them to be predictions of certain doom, there is also a danger of deciphering too much from these admittedly disconcerting events.
Because Nottingham Forest are not in meltdown. If there was a crisis, it was a minor one and, from the outside looking in, it seems to be over.
Two significant things happened over the past week.
Firstly, it is understood that a large chunk of cash arrived from Kuwait to pay off all outstanding debts.
Secondly, it was followed by Fawaz Al Hasawi, who intends to take over as chairman.
As the club's major shareholder and, effectively, the main owner, he will not be short of motivation when it comes to ensuring such incidents do not occur again.
Not just to protect his investment, but also their reputation.
Because, culturally, reputation is as important in that part of the world as it is anywhere.
When the Al Hasawi family purchased the club back in the summer, experts from the region suggested they would view owning Forest as a status symbol, as something to give them greater kudos.
And that standing would only be increased if they could oversee a restoration of the club's fortunes.
Their goal was success, to steer the club back into the Premier League. That will not have changed. They will have been embarrassed by the events of the past week – but their commitment to Forest so far is hard to question.
We are talking about a family who paid a large, seven-figure sum to buy the club in the first place; who have invested heavily to bring 14 new players and a host of additional backroom staff to the club.
It is safe to say they are not short of a bob or two – and they have invested significant amounts in the club already. Not just on the playing squad.
The club are installing two giant video screens at the City Ground, which should be unveiled for the first time when Forest play Leeds on Boxing Day.
That is intended to be a sign of the family's desire to increase the club's stature; to demonstrate their ambition.
They have also looked into further improving the already impressive facilities at the Nigel Doughty Academy and even revamping the City Ground – although both sets of plans are in their early stages.
On top of that, Fawaz also had experience of running football clubs, having been president of Kuwaiti club Qadsia for two years – and overseeing two title wins in the Kuwaiti Premier League.
Running an English football club is likely to provide many different challenges, not least when it comes to the money involved.
But the basic principles remain the same. The club now has more experienced hands on the tiller.
And the owners have already demonstrated their willingness to back Sean O'Driscoll.
The manager has been offered the chance to make further signings over the past five months, including some big names – such as Jermaine Pennant.
But the Al Hasawi's have also backed his judgment when O'Driscoll has chosen to reject some of those opportunities, fearing upsetting dressing room harmony or signing players that were not needed.
He will, however, have a shopping list of targets for the January window.
And, presuming the manager receives the same level of backing that he has been given so far, then any lingering doubts that remain following a few embarrassing incidents should dissipate.
On that front, Forest are not in need of a massive overhaul. Two or three new, quality additions are likely to be the limit of the club's January targets.
A striker, a winger and another defender will top O'Driscoll's shopping list – although one or two players could also move out of the exit.
Matt Derbyshire has already expressed his desire to move on, in search of first-team football.
David McGoldrick is likely to be targeted by several clubs, following his good form with Coventry.
Lewis McGugan, Dexter Blackstock, Lee Camp and Radi Majewski are all out of contract in the summer.
Forest would want to keep all of them at the club – but only at the right price.
Those contract negotiations need to start sooner, rather than later, if they do want to keep them, with out-of-contract players allowed to talk to other clubs in January, about a summer move.
Last season, the failure to tie up players to new contracts was a mistake. This year, we may yet discover that it is intentional.
It could be that Forest have other targets in mind, that they want to make room on the wage bill for new players by letting one or two go, regardless of their previous contribution.
Only time will tell.
The end of the world is not likely to arrive tomorrow, nor will 2012 mark the end of Nottingham Forest.
In the coming months, it will still be interesting to see how they bounce back from what has been a testing week.
But, once again, like the Mayans, the prophets of doom in Derby and Leicester seem unlikely to be right.