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Nottingham Forest did not ask for Stuart Attwell to be taken off VAR duties

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 22 Apr 2024

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Nottingham Forest did not ask for Stuart Attwell to be taken off VAR duties for their match against Everton, sources have told the PA news agency.

Forest issued an extraordinary statement on social media on Sunday after their 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park, saying they had “warned” referees’ body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) that Attwell “was a Luton fan” but that “they did not change him”.

The statement also complained about three penalty appeals which were turned down. Forest said they were now “considering their options”, while the Football Association is understood to be investigating the post.

PA understands Forest’s referee analyst Mark Clattenburg contacted PGMOL’s chief refereeing officer Howard Webb on Friday to share that manager Nuno Espirito Santo might be asked about Attwell’s appointment at his pre-match press conference, but ultimately no such questions were asked.

However, the PA news agency has been told Forest, and Clattenburg, did not request for the appointment of Attwell to be changed and nor did the club express that they had any problem with the appointment.

Forest have been contacted for comment.

The Reds were furious not to be awarded spot-kicks by referee Anthony Taylor for challenges on Giovanni Reyna and Callum Hudson-Odoi by Ashley Young, who also escaped a handball decision. Attwell backed the referee’s on-field decision in each case.

The club’s social media post on X read: “Three extremely poor decisions – three penalties not given – which we simply cannot accept.

“We warned the PGMOL that the VAR is a Luton fan before the game but they didn’t change him. Our patience has been tested multiple times. NFFC will now consider its options.”

Clattenburg later wrote in a Daily Mail column: “One of these errors would have been bad enough. Three was a joke, and that is why Nottingham Forest were left feeling victimised after another defeat in which zero big decisions went their way.

“In a season where they have had to endure some egregious refereeing, this trip to Everton was as grim a game as they have encountered since returning to the Premier League.”

He added: “You will have seen the statement released by the club — how the PGMOL was contacted to warn that it was not appropriate for a Luton fan such as Attwell to play such a pivotal role in a massive match that would impact the relegation race.

“Certainly, I would not have risked this situation if I were the head of the referees and all of this could have been avoided had the PGMOL simply made smarter appointments.

“Referees do not make mistakes deliberately but this was mind-boggling to watch. Why Attwell did not send Taylor to his screen, only he will know.”

Clattenburg also spoke out last month after Forest’s defeat to Liverpool, when he highlighted that referee Paul Tierney had made an error in law by mistakenly handing possession back to Liverpool for a drop ball late in the game.

On that occasion, the club were fined £75,000 for failing to control their players while first-team coach Steven Reid was fined and given a two-match touchline ban for his abusive behaviour towards Tierney.

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