MULTI-millionaire Nottingham Forest owner Nigel Doughty died from sudden adult death syndrome after collapsing while working out in his gym.
The father-of-four, who saved the football club from administration when he bought it for £11 million in 1999, was found “lifeless” in the gym at his home in Skillington, near Grantham, on the afternoon of February 4.
An inquest was opened and adjourned to enable further tests to take place on the 54-year-old after post-mortem tests carried out shortly after his death failed to provide a definitive cause of death.
But the resumed inquest in Grantham was today (Thurs) told Mr Doughty died as a result of sudden adult death syndrome just an hour after going to his gym.
He was found “collapsed and lifeless” just before 1.15pm after telling family members that he was going to use the gym in a separate annex at the property. They had described him as “fit and well.”
Emergency services were called and paramedics attempted to resuscitate Mr Doughty but he was confirmed dead at the scene. Lincolnshire Police later confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death and said they believed he died of natural causes.
The inquest was told he had recieved regular medical checks over the previous 14 years and his last examination just seven months before his death saw his health assessed as “very satisfactory”.
Pathologist Ian Scott, who carried out a post mortem at Nottingham’s Queen Medical Centre, said: “The autopsy examination suggests that this gentleman suffered a sudden cardiac death. Sudden adult death syndrome in my judgement is the cause of death.”
At the end of the 15-minute hearing, West Lincolnshire coroner Paul Smith said: “The circumstances appear to be at around noon he went to the gym at his home. He appeared fit and well.
“The evidence suggests he had previously been in good health. His body was discovered around 1.15pm. I am satisfied on the evidence I have heard that there are no suspicious circumstances at all surrounding this death.”
After recording a verdict of death by natural causes the coroner added: “The family have my genuine sympathies.”
Mr Doughty’s widow Lucy and his daughter Helen attended the hearing and gave the family’s reaction in a statement.
It read: “Nigel’s sudden and unexpected death was a huge shock to his family and the past three months have been extremely painful. We are therefore very glad that the coroner’s findings have put an end to the uncertainty over the cause of death.
“This has given some comfort to us as a family and no doubt to all who knew and loved Nigel.
“Comfort has also come from the enormous amount of support and sympathy exhibited over this difficult time by family and friends. We are deeply grateful.
“It has meant a great deal to us to see how much Nigel was loved and respected. It would have meant a lot to him too.
“Given Nigel’s high profile role there has been speculation about his death and it’s impact beyond the family. We ask you to remember that to us Nigel was a husband, a father and a cherished family member.”
Mr Doughty made his fortune through the private equity firm Doughty Hanson of which he was chief executive. He leaves his widow, Lucy, and four children including his eldest son, Michael, 19, a midfielder for Premier League club Queens Park Rangers.
A lifelong supporter of the former European Cup winners, having first watched the team at the age of six, Mr Doughty went on to buy the club in 1999 for £11m, subsequently pumping around £23 million into the club.
He quit as chairman earlier this season amid fan protests after admitting that his appointment of former England boss Steve McClaren as manager was a mistake, with Football League chairman Greg Clarke later blaming the stress of keeping the club afloat as a contributory factor to his death.
Mr Doughty was also a large donor to the Labour Party giving over £3m and headed its small business task force.
Labour leader Ed Miliband was among those who paid tribute to Mr Doughty following his death.