Nottingham Forest continue noble quest for impartiality, ‘considering suing’ Gary Neville for impartial criticism

Steven Chicken
Nuno Espirito Santo does the Picard face-palm
Nuno Espirito Santo, with his 32-year career in professional football, was left shocked that refereeing decisions do not always go his team's way

Nottingham Forest have issued another statement speaking out about what they think is only right amid reports they may sue Gary Neville for speaking out about what he thinks is only right.

Forest, who owe their Premier League place in no small part to a pair of dodgy VAR calls in the 2022 play-off final and laughingly celebrated the fact at the time, are extremely upset that the same VAR system turns out not to have been on their side in perpetuity.

Gary Neville fails to get memo about never saying anything mean about Nottingham Forest

The club were upset that three decisions went against them in their two-goal defeat to Everton, in which they bravely and nobly conceded twice to a team that had scored twice on just one other occasion since the middle of December.

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Accepting their predicament with the utmost grace and decorum, Nottingham Forest published a statement criticising the appointment of Stuart Attwell as video ref, given his alleged fondness for relegation rivals Luton Town. Manager Nuno Espirito Santo commented that in other countries you might suspect a conspiracy, while the club’s very important referee analyst Mark Clattenburg wrote an entirely impartial and incredibly fair piece in the Mail on Sunday in which he heroically defended the club that pays him to defend them.

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The pile-on led Neville to comment that the club’s response was ‘like a mafia-gang statement’, an analogy that we think only works if he’s thinking of Tony Soprano standing in his driveway in his dressing gown complaining that he only likes the orange juice with some pulp.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Neville continued: “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.”

Sure enough the Daily Mail report that Forest are now considering suing Neville for his outrageous and inexcusable outburst, which gave nary of mention of a breathtakingly valiant Forest display in which they managed a whopping eight shots (three on target).

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Dignified, statesmanlike Nottingham Forest continue to take it all very well

If only Neville had remained as dignified as Forest were when they published the second statement we all needed on Monday evening, saying: “Following yesterday’s match, NFFC issued a statement highlighting our concern at the perception of the PGMOL appointment of VAR for the game.

“This was an issue we raised with PGMOL prior to the fixture because of the fear of the sideshow that would ensue if anything went wrong with officiating in the game. That fear has materialised, as the correctness of three important decisions against the club have been called into doubt.

“‘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 over VAR decisions throughout this season, any move which boosts confidence in the system should be properly considered.”

The Mail add that Forest are likely to face an FA fine.

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