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PGMOL to allow Nottingham Forest to hear VAR audio of rejected penalty claims

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 Apr 2024

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Nottingham Forest will be given the opportunity to privately hear the VAR audio connected to three penalty claims in their match against Everton last Sunday.

Forest called on Monday for the audio between Stuart Attwell and on-field official Anthony Taylor to be released publicly.

Sources close to referees body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) insist it has nothing to hide and will give the club the opportunity to hear the audio in private, as it would any other club making a similar request.

The PA news agency understands no decision has yet been taken on whether this audio would also feature in the next edition of ‘Match Officials Mic’d Up’, which will air next Tuesday evening.

The audio related to a wrongly disallowed Luis Diaz goal for Liverpool at Tottenham earlier this season was released publicly, but in that instance there had been a serious communication error so the matter was treated differently.

Forest have been contacted by PA regarding the offer to release the audio.

The club have risked Football Association and Premier League sanction over their extraordinary response to the three rejected penalty appeals.

The club said in a statement on Sunday they had “warned” PGMOL that VAR Stuart Attwell “was a Luton fan” but that PGMOL did not change the appointment.

The Premier League said it was “extremely disappointed” by the statement, adding it was “never appropriate to improperly question the integrity of match officials”.

The league said it was investigating the matter in relation to the league’s rules, with regulations B.15 and B.16 governing the requirement on clubs and their officials to behave with utmost good faith.

Forest went on to release a further statement on Monday evening calling for the rules around referees’ allegiances to be updated to account for “contextual rivalries in the league table”.

Referees do already declare allegiances and will not be assigned that team’s matches, or certain other fixtures such as those involving direct local rivals of that club. For instance, Michael Oliver has spoken in the past about he cannot referee Newcastle games because he is a fan.

Other factors that determine appointments include which teams an official’s immediate family members support, as well as performance and the number of times they have officiated a particular team’s matches.

PGMOL takes all of that into account and endeavours to make the best appointments possible when allocating six officials to each Premier League fixture from a pool of 70 to 75, while also fulfilling Championship refereeing appointments.

Ultimately, it has confidence in the impartiality and professionalism of its officials.

No club is believed to have ever questioned the process in the manner Forest have since the birth of the Premier League 32 years ago, and nor have the club raised any concerns in relation to the previous occasions when Attwell has been the VAR at their matches this season.

English officials are clearly well thought of by UEFA, with eight included in the list for Euro 2024 this summer.

Taylor will lead one of two English referee teams at Euro 2024, with Oliver leading the other. Attwell and David Coote have been named as VARs.

Three Forest staff – manager Nuno Espirito Santo, full-back Neco Williams and referee analyst Mark Clattenburg – have been asked by the FA for observations on the comments they made about the officiating at Goodison Park.

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