Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest

Premier League • England

Nottingham Forest consider ‘legal action’ against Sky Sports over Gary Neville’s comments

Nottingham Forest and owner Evangelos Marinakis are unhappy with Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville

Nottingham Forest and owner Evangelos Marinakis are unhappy with Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville

Nottingham Forest are reportedly considering taking legal action against Sky Sports after pundit Gary Neville likened their criticism of Premier League officials during their loss to Everton to a “mafia gang statement”.

Forest took to X, formerly Twitter, following their 2-0 loss to their relegation rivals on Sunday as they felt they were denied three penalties by referee Anthony Taylor and VAR official Stuart Attwell – who is allegedly a Luton Town supporter.

The Tricky Trees tweeted after the defeat, where Idrissa Gueye and Dwight McNeil scored the decisive goals: “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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Former Manchester United defender Neville heavily criticised Forest’s statement, calling it “embarrassing” and akin to a “petulant child”.

‘Like a mafia gang statement’

He said on Sky Sports: “It’s like a mafia gang statement. I mean, honestly, what the hell are they playing at? It’s like a petulant child, it’s embarrassing.

“And some of those things they’re saying in there, the suggestion of some sort of inferring of cheating because there’s an official in VAR in Stockley Park who’s a Luton fan is a scandal, and they will pay for that.”

Now, according to the Daily Mail, the club and their unhappy owner Evangelos Marinakis are considering suing Sky Sports as those comments have allegedly not gone down well with the club’s hierarchy.

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On Monday, Forest tweeted they had submitted a formal request to the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) to release audio from the Everton loss, particularly for Ashley Young’s challenge on Giovanni Reyna, his ‘handball’ just before half-time and his tackle on Callum Hudson-Odoi early in the second half.

Forest under investigation for statement

Later that day, Premier League Communications revealed the Football Association is investigating Forest’s statement as it was “extremely disappointed” by what was said.

Their tweet reads: “It is never appropriate to improperly question the integrity of match officials, and the nature of these comments means the Premier League will also be investigating the matter in relation to the League’s Rules.”

Swiftly after that statement, Forest responded with their own, calling on the PGMOL to change its rules on “allegiances to account for contextual rivalries in the league table” and not just local rivalries.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, who are one point above the relegation zone in 17th, stood by their original message and called for greater transparency.

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Forest request for refereeing rule change

The club tweeted: “This is not about individuals but rather how the integrity of the game is seen. We know match officials do not allow outside factors to influence their decision-making and that all referees are required to declare their ‘allegiances’ to PGMOL to avoid any perceived conflict or harm to the game’s reputation for integrity.

“However, it is clear PGMOL must amend its rule on allegiances to account for contextual rivalries in the league table, not just local rivalries. This is currently not within the criteria but should be. Mere reliance on match officials to recuse themselves if contextual rivalries exist invites conjecture, as some have recused themselves where others have not.

“NFFC stands by its request for greater transparency around PGMOL appointments to further protect the game’s reputation, as intended in PGMOL’s existing approach to allegiances.

“Given the widespread and ongoing concerns, not merely of the fans, players and managers of this Club but of many others and the pundits too, over VAR decisions throughout this season any move which boosts confidence in the system should be properly considered.”

Everton’s win took them five points clear of the bottom three and they have a game in hand on Forest, 18th-placed Luton, and 19th-placed Burnley.