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Mark Clattenburg resigns in wake of Nottingham Forest VAR controversy

Mark Clattenburg has resigned from his role as referee consultant for Nottingham Forest (Mike Egerton/PA Wire)
Mark Clattenburg has resigned from his role as referee consultant for Nottingham Forest (Mike Egerton/PA Wire)

Mark Clattenburg has resigned from his role as Nottingham Forest’s referee analyst in the wake of the club’s controversial handling of contentious decisions by VAR.

Clattenburg was appointed by Forest in February to the unusual position, which involved assessing refereeing performances and leading the club’s response to apparent miscarriages of justice on the field.

But he faced calls to resign amid a fierce backlash to Forest’s statement on social media following last month’s 2-0 defeat by Everton, which accused VAR Stuart Attwell of bias by suggesting his support of relegation rivals Luton Town meant he was unfit to officiate Forest games.

Both the Premier League and the Football Association opened investigations into Forest’s accusation of bias against an official, which they and the referees’ body, the PGMOL, take extremely seriously.

Clattenburg has walked away before any conclusion to those investigations, insisting he performed his role “in good faith” but accepting he had caused “unintended friction” between Forest and the game’s governing bodies.

Nottingham Forest were not happy at Goodison Park (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)
Nottingham Forest were not happy at Goodison Park (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

“This is to announce that I will no longer be providing match analysis services to NFFC,” Clattenburg said in a statement. “Since February this year, I have been proud to have done so under a consultancy agreement between NFFC and Referee Consultant Ltd.

“I performed my services under the consultancy agreement in good faith, to the best of my abilities and in the hope of using my extensive experience as a match official to help NFFC understand how decisions in relation to key match incidents are made amid the workings of VAR.

“However, it is now clear that the existence and performance of these consultancy services has caused unintended friction between NFFC and other participants, to the extent that it has become more of a hinderance [sic] than help to NFFC.”

Clattenburg also took the opportunity to take a parting shot at pundits, after he was heavily criticised on a number of television shows, most notably by Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports.

Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville criticised Nottingham Forest’s statement (Getty Images)
Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville criticised Nottingham Forest’s statement (Getty Images)

“It has also led to the unmerited targeting of me, personally, by certain participants and pundits,” Clattenburg added.

“Such reactions and outcome was not expected and is regrettable, as it is my sincere belief that there is a place for and value in such a role in the modern game. I am grateful to NFFC and wish them all the best during the remainder of the season and in the future. It’s been an honour.”

Forest called for the audio of VAR’s analysis of the Everton game to be released publicly, but later accepted an offer from the PGMOL to hear it in private. Forest are understood to have heard the audio now but have not issued any comment.

“The game is played by human beings, it’s officiated by human beings,” referees’ chief Howard Webb said when discussing the controversy on Sky Sports’ Mic’d Up. “Our job is to try to ensure that we have a positive impact on the game by identifying correct decisions on the field.

“This [Callum Hudson-Odoi’s rejected penalty appeal] wasn’t one. When that doesn’t happen, the VAR consistently recognises when an error has happened on the field and steps in. But of course they’re humans making judgements as well so we always are trying to reduce the number of errors that we make.”