Gary Neville demands Mark Clattenburg resign from Nottingham Forest role over VAR storm

Forest hit out on social media after a 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park

Lawrence Ostlere
Monday 22 April 2024 13:18 BST
Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville have criticised Nottingham Forest’s statement
Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville have criticised Nottingham Forest’s statement (Getty Images)

Gary Neville says the former referee Mark Clattenburg should resign from his role at Nottingham Forest immediately following the club’s controversial statement on social media which accused a match official of bias.

Relegation-threatened Forest were aggrieved not to be awarded three penalties – all against ex-England defender Ashley Young – as they lost 2-0 at Goodison Park, and later took aim at referees’ body Professional Game Match Officials Limited.

The club described the decisions as “extremely poor” and implied that VAR official Stuart Attwell was a Luton fan – the Hatters are also engaged in a survival fight – in a post on X shortly after the full-time whistle.

Neville said: “It’s horrendous, the statement by that football club, and it lets the proud history of that club down. The inferred cheating, as suggested by a Luton fan being a VAR official, is absolutely ridiculous.”

Forest in February enlisted the services of former referee Mark Clattenburg as a consultant analyst to fight their corner after believing they have been on the wrong end of a series of contentious decisions.

Neville said Clattenburg, in the wake of the club’s statement, must leave his role or risk losing “all credibility” within the game.

“Mark Clattenburg must resign from his job at Nottingham Forest,” the former Manchester United defender said.

Asked why, he continued: “Because if he sees those words go out, which question the integrity and essentially call a VAR official a cheat because he supports a certain club, then he’s supporting what’s being said and he would basically lose all credibility, I think, with referees in the game.

“He should stand down tonight and distance himself from that statement, in my opinion.”

But Clattenburg spoke out later on Sunday to criticise the performance of the officials.

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.

That rubbish that VAR's a Luton fan – you can't get involved in that, you've got to show a little bit of class if you're a football club

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher

“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.”

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher accused Forest of lacking “class”.

“It tells you where we are with the Premier League now and the clubs,” Carragher said. “Stuart Attwell and Anthony Taylor have had an horrific day today, awful, and they should be rightly criticised for that and that could have real implications for Nottingham Forest.

“I get the frustration, but that, what I’ve just read there on social media, that’s like a fan in a pub. That is embarrassing from Nottingham Forest. I get the frustration.

“That rubbish that VAR’s a Luton fan – you can’t get involved in that, you’ve got to show a little bit of class if you’re a football club. I get it, the frustration – the officials had an awful day, terrible – but you can’t get involved in that, that’s nonsense.”

Forest’s 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.”

Former Forest forward Stan Collymore was also critical of the move, which he fears may be counter-productive.

Collymore posted on X: “Take the high road and keep making representation via club secretary. That’s the accepted 150+ year protocol.

“I GUARANTEE the only thing social media and owner rants will do is create more issues. Take. The. High. Road. It’s. Nottingham. Forest. Not. A. Pub. Team.”

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