Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest

Premier League • England

Mark Clattenburg hits back at Gary Neville over ‘resign’ demands amid ‘joke’ Nottingham Forest ref calls

Gary Neville hits out at Nottingham Forest refereeing consultant Mark Clattenburg

Gary Neville hits out at Nottingham Forest refereeing consultant Mark Clattenburg

Nottingham Forest refereeing consultant Mark Clattenburg has hit back at Gary Neville after the Sky Sports pundit told him to resign in the wake of the “embarrassing” statement put out by the club following their frustrating 2-0 defeat at Everton on Sunday.

The Toffees hosted the Tricky Trees in a huge relegation tussle at Goodison Park on Sunday, with long-distant goals in either half from Idrissa Gueye and Dwight McNeil proving decisive and handing Sean Dyche’s side a very-welcome three points in their battle to beat the drop. The flip side of that loss, however, means that Nottingham Forest are now just a point from safety ahead of Luton in 18th place and with just four games left to preserve their Premier League status.

However, the match on Merseyside was not without controversy, after Forest fell on the wrong side of three contentious penalty decisions And while the incidents were all waved away by referee Anthony Taylor, a statement from the club on X, formerly Twitter, after the game, appeared to direct their anger at VAR official Stuart Atwell, whom they have accused of “being a Luton Town fan”.

The statement 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.”

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The statement, however, has caused widespread disbelief and condemnation in the game, with many suggesting the Forest statement is an embarrassment.

One of those left shellshocked by their words was Sky Sports pundit Neville, who feels the comments do not reflect well at all.

Gary Neville demands Mark Clattenburg resigns

And with Clattenburg believed to have heavily influenced the statement, Neville made his feelings clear.

“Mark Clattenberg must resign tonight,” Neville told Sky Sports. “If he saw those words go out in which question the integrity of a referee and claims someone is a cheat for supporting another club, then he’s supporting what is being said. He would lose all credibility with referees in the game. He should stand down tonight and distance himself from that statement.

“The statement is like a petulant child. It’s embarrassing. But they’re grabbing defeat from victory. They could say, ‘why should we sit here and be badly done to and not say anything’. You can potentially come out at the end of the game – and the manager is a great spokesman at the end of the game, so is your captain – and say that we’re not accepting the quality of decisions that are going against us, and that would have a real impact.

“You could if you wanted, and I’m not a fan, but written statements from the club when it comes to talking about referees, I don’t believe that’s a line you should cross. I think managers can say, ‘that’s a shocker today, a disgraceful decision’. You’d get a bit of a fine and the club might cover it for you because you do a deal with the chairman to defend yourselves and put a marker down. All of those things have happened in the past.

“Today and over the last few weeks, the way Nottingham Forest are behaving lacks class and that’s a class club. When I was growing up, they acted in a way where you felt like values and principles were really at the forefront of everything they did through the manager they had at the time.

Forest statement labelled ‘horrendous’

Neville continued: “Today has been a horrendous day for Nottingham Forest. Possibly horrendous because of the decisions that they’ve had, but horrendous for how they’ve reacted to the situation. To mention the VAR official as being a Luton fan and inferring in some way that’s had an impact on the decision-making process and suggesting to me as a fan, thinking ‘has he cheated us’, you’re into really dangerous territory.

“And when they say ‘explore all options’, I had a problem with Liverpool saying that after the offside at Tottenham – what do you mean by that?

“It’s become a theme moving forward that clubs now think they can ‘explore options’. What are they going to do, sue? Replay the game? Ask for points back? That’s never going to happen.

“Unless you can prove somehow there’s been absolute wrongdoing, which there won’t be in that sense, it’s just a nonsense.

“I’m disappointed for Nottingham Forest’s players and fans, but I’m also disappointed in Nottingham Forest for the way in which they’ve acted. It’s a horrendous tweet they’ve put out there and they’ll regret that as a football club.

“Someone is driving this cultural behaviour in the way in which they’re handling these poor decisions and it’s not the right way to do it.”

Clattenburg hits back and defends Forest statement

Clattenburg, however, has since done an interview with the Daily Mail and believes someone needs to be held accountable over what he feels were three hugely controversial decisions.

Branding the decisions a “joke”, he hit back in a strongly-worded response.

“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,” he began.

He added: “These situations were precisely why video technology was brought into the Premier League and yet, Attwell did not send Taylor to his monitor. Not once. It was a hat-trick of howlers from the refereeing team and, unfortunately for Forest, a continuation of an unjust trend that has hampered their survival fight.”

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The former Premier League referee insisted the VAR should have overruled Taylor’s decisions and feels questions need to be asked.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Forest next face Manchester City at the City Ground, before a trip to face fellow strugglers Sheffield United, with matches against Chelsea (home) and Burnley (away) concluding their season.