The Mark Clattenburg experiment that didn't work and why Nottingham Forest are feeling the backlash

Mark Clattenburg has quit his role at Nottingham Forest
Mark Clattenburg has quit his role at Nottingham Forest -Credit:PA

Mark Clattenburg’s time at Nottingham Forest was short but not necessarily sweet, and now it has come to an end after less than three months.

Appointed with the best of intentions by the Reds in mid-February, the former top-flight referee has quit amid “friction” and fallout. And there will be many who say they saw it coming.

Forest were doing something different when they brought in Clattenberg as a referee analyst. It was a new path for a Premier League club to go down. But this particular experiment hasn’t exactly worked out.

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Clattenburg’s appointment came after the Reds had been on the receiving end of a number of controversial decisions. The problem, however, is his arrival didn’t exactly turn the tide on that front.

Forest have continued to have key refereeing calls go against them. Quite a significant number, in fact. Not least those three penalty shouts against Everton - the furore and subsequent fallout from which seems to have led to Clattenburg opting to step down.

“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 hindrance than help to NFFC,” he said in a statement. “It has also led to the unmerited targeting of me, personally, by certain participants and pundits.”

Forest had hoped Clattenburg would act as a conduit between themselves and the Professional Game Match Officials Board Limited (PGMOL). The club also hoped the 49-year-old could help them understand why certain in-game decisions were being made.

Less than three months on, Nuno Espirito Santo is still spending many a press conference expressing frustration with referees and VAR, and the club recently called on the PGMOL to “amend” the rules regarding the appointment of officials.

One of their statements after the Everton game read: “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 allegiance.”

That particular statement came on the back of Forest accusing VAR Stuart Attwell of being a fan of relegation rivals Luton Town in their angry tweet after the 2-0 loss on Merseyside. Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville subsequently called for Clattenburg to resign in the aftermath.

The ex-official has now done so. And it is to be hoped that as Nuno’s side battle for Premier League survival, all the focus and talk is of what they do on the pitch rather than off-field matters. They are still waiting for the outcome of their appeal hearing over their four-point deduction for breaching financial rules, but there is now, at least, one less distraction.

As Clattenburg said in his exit statement, there can still be “a place for and value in such a role”. Just not at the City Ground right now.

How would you sum up Clattenburg's time at Forest? Have your say in the comments HERE