Sworn rivals Cardiff and Swansea have formed an unlikely coalition as they take Nottingham Forest to task over an alleged tapping-up of their players.
Forest chief executive Mark Arthur says Cardiff’s Peter Whittingham and Darren Pratley of Swansea want to play for his club, though neither of the Welsh clubs are willing to do business.
And it is the public manner of Arthur’s pursuit of the players which has riled the two sides from south Wales.
Cardiff are 5/1 to win promotion this season, and they maintain that despite their debts, they do not need to sell their star players.
After a 2-0 opening defeat at Hull, Swansea’s promotion hopes (they are 6/1 to go up) were dealt a blow, but their financial stability means that they needn’t offload their assets either.
In what seems to be an imitation of a ploy used by Barcelona in their bid to tempt Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas to the Camp Nou, Arthur has spoken of how both players supposedly want to play for Forest.
“We’re hopeful and what we do know is the players we’ve identified want to play for Nottingham Forest,” Arthur said. “That is the encouraging thing. It is just a case of prising them out.”
Cardiff chief executive Gethin Jenkins has suggested that Arthur “direct his attention towards internal Nottingham Forest issues and problems, rather than any blatant public attempts to unsettle members of our playing squad.”
Both Cardiff and Swansea will be particularly irked as they view Forest (8/1 to win the Championship title) as direct competition in their respective bids to win promotion.
Forest, who lost their opening match to Burnley, have already had a bid of £1m for Whittingham turned down, while Pratley has been the subject of more than one failed bid from Billy Davies’ side.
Would Forest be a step up for either player? Davies’ men are 9/4 to gain promotion this season. See the full Championship 2010/11 Betting Odds market.