EPL

Nottingham Forest claim VAR is a Luton fan after defeat at Everton

By Sports Desk April 21, 2024

Nottingham Forest have accused VAR Stuart Attwell of being a Luton fan after feeling they were on the wrong end of “three extremely poor decisions” during Sunday’s 2-0 Premier League defeat at Everton.

Forest posted on X, formerly Twitter, soon after full-time that they were considering their options, having “warned the PGMOL that the VAR is a Luton fan before the game but they didn’t change him”, adding that their patience had now been “tested multiple times” this season.

The relegation-threatened midlands club were furious not to be awarded spot-kicks by Anthony Taylor for challenges on Giovanni Reyna and Callum Hudson-Odoi by Ashley Young, who in the meantime had looked fortunate to escape a handball decision, with Attwell backing the referee.

Forest posted: “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.”

All three incidents were waved away by referee Taylor, with VAR Attwell opting not to reverse any decision, suggesting with the handball that Young’s arm had been deemed to be in a natural position when it was hit by Hudson-Odoi’s cross.

Forest head coach Nuno Espirito Santo backed the club’s statement in the main but played down the importance of Attwell’s allegiances.

Asked whether he agreed with his club’s stance, he said: “Yes I share (the view) because I saw the images. You see it so clearly, you don’t understand why the decision was against us.

“I honestly think the situation with Gio Reyna in the first half was a clear one and the handball, we can ask because if not, the ball goes to (Chris) Wood and there is an incident with Callum and Ashley Young.

“I share the feeling of the club because it is not only this game, it has been a while for poor decisions against us. It is not an excuse but we are not comfortable with the referees.”

Nuno stopped short of repeating the club’s suggestion Attwell’s appointment as VAR raised issues of impartiality, instead choosing to question the official’s inability to spot what he thought were three viable spot-kicks.

“I am aware of the complaint that the club was not comfortable with the VAR but the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) decided another way,” he said.

“It is not important if he is a fan of another club or not. The VAR is sitting down in a chair, they have time to assess the images.

“I would just like to understand the why – why we have always been on the end of bad decisions.

“It is a feeling of disappointment that we are always being punished and it is difficult to control the players with this feeling because they felt they worked hard and not got what they deserved.”

Asked whether he thought it was appropriate for the club to complain about the appointment of officials before a match, the Forest boss said: “I prefer not to answer if it is appropriate.

“It’s a feeling and trying to avoid what happened today and not raise any more suspicions or thoughts that no-one wants. It is about preventing.”

It is not the first time Forest have been incensed with refereeing decisions, and as a result they appointed former official Mark Clattenburg as a consultant analyst to fight their corner.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Clattenburg described the three decisions as “a joke” and said Forest had been subjected to “some egregious refereeing” this season.

He added: “You will have seen the statement released by the club — how the PGMOL were 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.”

The PA news agency understands the Football Association is aware of the post and is investigating. PA has also contacted the PGMOL for comment.

Amid the furore, Everton moved five points clear of the relegation zone after goals in either half for Idrissa Gueye and Dwight McNeil.

The only downside to the day for the hosts was striker Beto being carried off after being knocked unconscious in a clash of heads.

“He definitely came around and could understand what is going on, a good early sign,” Toffees boss Sean Dyche said.

“It was fantastic how early the medical team came around, we hope for news over the next 24 to 48 hours.”

The Everton manager was happy to have secured back-to-back home wins either side of Monday’s 6-0 humiliation at Chelsea.

“It is very pleasing considering the madness of the current situation – two wins and two clean sheets in three games, sandwiched by a horrible performance,” he said.

“The reaction was very important today.”

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