Premier League club Nottingham Forest accuses refereeing official of supporting rival team after defeat

Nottingham Forest has accused a Premier League refereeing official of being a fan of relegation rival Luton Town in an extraordinary social media post following the team’s 2-0 defeat by Everton on Sunday.

Forest felt as though it should have been awarded penalties in three instances during the match: one for handball and one each for fouls on Forest players Giovanni Reyna and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

No penalties for the three incidents were given by referee Anthony Taylor, whose decisions were backed up by video assistant referee (VAR) Stuart Attwell, the official Forest accused of supporting Luton.

The defeat leaves Forest just one point above Luton, who are in 18th and the final relegation place with four matches of the season remaining.

“Three extremely poor decisions - three penalties not given - which we simply cannot accept,” the club wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “We warned the PGMOL [Professional Game Match Officials Limited] 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.”

CNN has learned that the English Football Association is investigating the post.

“The Premier League was extremely disappointed to read the comments made by Nottingham Forest on social media yesterday, following its match against Everton,” the league said in a statement on Monday.

“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.”

CNN has reached out to the PGMOL and Forest offering the opportunity for comment.

Sky Sports pundit and former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher agreed that the officials had got the decisions wrong but called Forest’s statement “embarrassing.”

Forest accused Stuart Attwell of being a Luton Town fan. - Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Forest accused Stuart Attwell of being a Luton Town fan. - Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

“It tells you where we are with the Premier League and the clubs now,” he said during post-match coverage Sunday. “Attwell and Taylor have had an awful day today, and they should be criticised, but what I’ve just read there is like a fan in a pub. That is embarrassing from Nottingham Forest.”

Fellow Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, a former Manchester United defender, called it “a horrendous statement.”

“It lets the proud history of that club down, and the inferred cheating, suggesting the official is a Luton Town fan, is absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “I don’t even know what ‘explore all options’ means.”

Forest issued another statement on Monday, saying they have “submitted a formal request to the PGMOL” to release the audio between Taylor and Attwell.

“The club has requested this be shared for three key match incidents - Ashley Young’s challenge on Giovanni Reyna (24th minute), Ashley Young’s handball (44th minute) and Ashley Young’s challenge on Callum Hudson-Odoi (56th minute),” the statement read.

“We firmly advocate for the broader football community and supporters to have access to the audio and transcript for full transparency, ensuring the integrity of our sport is upheld.”


Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg, who currently works as a refereeing consultant for Forest, doubled down on the club’s statement in his weekly column for Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper.

“One of these errors would have been bad enough. Three was a joke, and that is why Nottingham Forest were left feeling victimised after another defeat in which zero big decisions went their way,” wrote Clattenburg.

“You will have seen the statement released by the club — how the PGMOL were contacted to warn that it was not appropriate for a Luton fan such as Attwell to play such a pivotal role in a massive match that would impact the relegation race.

“Certainly, I would not have risked this situation if I were the head of the referees and all of this could have been avoided had the PGMOL simply made smarter appointments.

“Referees do not make mistakes deliberately but this was mind-boggling to watch. Why Attwell did not send Taylor to his screen, only he will know.”

Callum Hudson-Odoi calls for a penalty after a challenge from Ashley Young. - Andrew Yates/AP
Callum Hudson-Odoi calls for a penalty after a challenge from Ashley Young. - Andrew Yates/AP

Questioning the integrity of a match official has previously put individuals in trouble with the FA. In 2023, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was given a two-match suspension and fined for implying a referee’s bias during post-match comments.

On Monday, the FA said that it has “formally requested observations” from Clattenburg, Forest manager Nuno Espírito Santo, and defender Neco Williams regarding comments they made after the match against Everton.

In 2016, Keith Hackett, the former PGMOL head, told the BBC that referees’ background information is “audited” ahead of the start of each season.

“They complete a form that includes who they support, the history of if they’ve played the game and with the addresses where they are residing,” said Hackett.

“That gives you a picture that comes into use when you’re appointing. It’s about ensuring, for example, you wouldn’t appoint a Sheffield-based ref for a Sheffield team.”

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at