Soccer

Ref welfare charity fears Mark Clattenburg ‘may be used like a puppet’ by Forest

Gladiators referee Clattenburg is working as an analyst for the Premier League club on a consultancy basis.

The boss of a referees’ charity fears Mark Clattenburg could be used as a “puppet” by Nottingham Forest
Mark Clattenburg The boss of a referees’ charity fears Mark Clattenburg could be used as a “puppet” by Nottingham Forest (Nigel French/PA)

A referee welfare charity fears Mark Clattenburg could be used as a “puppet” by Nottingham Forest.

Former Premier League official Clattenburg is working as a referee analyst for Forest on a consultancy basis, and spoke out at the weekend after Paul Tierney’s dropped-ball error in the home defeat to Liverpool.

Martin Cassidy, the chief executive of Ref Support, believes referee analysts at clubs could in principle be a positive move, and hugely admires Clattenburg, who has now also found fame with a new audience as a referee on the reboot of the television programme Gladiators.

Paul Tierney made a mistake in awarding a dropped ball to Liverpool late on in their match against Forest at the City Ground
Paul Tierney made a mistake in awarding a dropped ball to Liverpool late on in their match against Forest at the City Ground Paul Tierney made a mistake in awarding a dropped ball to Liverpool late on in their match against Forest at the City Ground (Mike Egerton/PA)

However, he fears such appointments could become “a partisan tool to justify ref abuse”.

“I genuinely fear that Clatts may be used like a puppet to give illegitimate behaviour credibility and by proxy justify ref abuse,” Cassidy told the PA news agency.

“I feel more clubs should call upon referees’ experience to explain law, etc, at every level of football.

“Football is a sport where the majority of those who play it don’t know the laws of the game they play. This is particularly relevant at pro level, which has always been a concern of mine, so I welcome such a role.

“The worry for me is if this role is then used as a partisan tool to justify ref abuse, and if the referee (analyst) has the freedom to say the referee was correct and the players were wrong.

“There is no doubt that Clattenburg has huge credibility in this field and is someone I hugely admire, but the question that needs to be asked is: Has Clattenburg got the freedom to question publicly the behaviour of Forest as a club for their unacceptable response to this incident?

“Would anyone be expected to believe that Clatts has a free rein to say that, or would it be fair to presume that he must deliver the message that the club wants him to deliver, whether the club’s opinion is right or wrong? Only time will tell.”

Clattenburg is believed to be the only referee analyst working with an English club that Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) is aware of.

Forest have been contacted for a response to Cassidy’s comments.

Tierney failed to award a dropped ball to Forest in an attacking position after stopping play for a head injury to Liverpool defender Ibrahima Konate.

Forest did regain possession after Tierney’s error but conceded a 99th-minute goal which cost them a valuable point in the race for Premier League survival.

Tierney will not referee a match this weekend but will be the VAR for Arsenal’s match against Brentford on Saturday evening. Sources close to PGMOL insist Tierney has not been dropped, and say he regularly alternates between being a referee and a VAR.

Clattenburg told BBC Radio 5 Live after last Saturday’s match: “(Forest) should have had the ball back. If the referee stops the game, he has to give the ball back to the team in possession. That was Forest.

Tierney signalled for an unopposed drop ball for Liverpool
Tierney signalled for an unopposed drop ball for Liverpool Tierney signalled for an unopposed drop ball for Liverpool (Mike Egerton/PA)

“When (the ball was) given to the keeper, with Liverpool scoring afterwards, you can see why (Forest) are aggrieved.

“I haven’t spoken to the referee – I’ll leave that to the club. I went to go into the referee’s dressing room (after the game) but he (Tierney) wouldn’t allow it.”

PGMOL is understood to be unaware of any further contact from the club over the incident beyond Clattenburg’s comments. Forest have not commented on whether there has been further contact.