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Premier League to join FA in investigating ‘inappropriate’ Forest statement amid Attwell row

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The Premier League will launch an investigation after Nottingham Forest accused VAR official Stuart Attwell of being a Luton Town fan in the aftermath of Sunday’s 2-0 Premier League defeat to Everton.

Forest are embroiled in a fight to avoid relegation and sit just one point above Luton in the table after Sunday’s defeat at Goodison Park.

Forest had three separate penalty appeals waved away by match referee Anthony Taylor, all of them involving Everton full-back Ashley Young.

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The former Manchester United man appeared to foul Giovanni Reyna in the first half and Callum Hudson-Odoi in the second period, while he was also fortunate to avoid being penalised for handball when the latter’s cross struck his hand on the stroke of half-time.

After the match, Forest’s official account on X, formerly known as Twitter, posted a scathing statement in which it was suggested VAR Attwell avoided overturning those decisions due to his alleged allegiance to Luton.

“Three extremely poor decisions – three penalties not given – which we simply cannot accept,” the club said.

“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.”

Those comments attracted widespread criticism from fans and pundits, while the Football Association said it would open an investigation.

On Monday, the Premier League confirmed it would launch its own probe, saying: “The Premier League was extremely disappointed to read the comments made by Nottingham Forest on social media yesterday, following its match against Everton.

“We note the FA has confirmed it will be investigating the club’s statement.

“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.”

Forest have also asked refereeing body PGMOL to release the audio pertaining to the VAR decision-making process around the incidents.

Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg is employed as a referee analyst by the club, and he avoided condemning their statement in a column for The Daily Mail on Sunday.

In that column, Clattenburg described the officiating of the game as a “joke” and repeated the suggestion that Attwell’s alleged ties to Luton could have influenced his decisions.

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville hit out at Forest and Clattenburg in his role as a Sky Sports pundit on Sunday, saying: “Mark Clattenberg must resign.

“If he saw those words go out, which question the integrity of a referee and claim 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.

“To mention the VAR official being a Luton fan and inferring in some way that’s had an impact on the decision-making process and thinking ‘has he cheated us?’ You’re into really dangerous territory.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.

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