Nottingham Forest has taken a bold step forward by bringing in Mark Clattenburg to help them navigate the unpredictable world of soccer officiating. In elite-level refereeing, his name is almost a byword.

The 48-year-old has a stellar 13-year Premier League career under his belt. He has also managed the complex dynamics of the Champions League and European Championship finals.

This hiring follows a string of controversial judgments and VAR scandals that have tarnished Forest‘s present campaign. The club have now promoted Clattenburg to a key consulting position.

His goal is to help the team and the officials work together more effectively by clarifying the complex process of officiating decisions. This includes most notably the two uncalled penalties they were involved in with Brentford and Manchester United.

Forest’s 2-0 victory against West Ham, seen by Clattenburg at the City Ground, heralds a new era.

Several questioning rulings against their favor

The club has taken steps to address what it perceives as faults and irregularities in officiating. They have so far lodged various complaints with the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).

Among the situations that have prompted these complaints are those involving Stuart Attwell and other match officials during the two matches. Their 3-2 loss against the Cherries resulted in a red card for Wily Boly.

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A comprehensive investigation then led to an apology from referee chief Howard Webb. Additionally, they made a formal complaint against Ivan Toney. Brentford’s striker allegedly moved the foam before attempting a free-kick, and scoring.

On Saturday, in yet another unexpected occurrence, Maxwel Cornet tripped Neco Williams, denying Forest what seemed to be a simple penalty. But referee Thomas Bramall ordered play to continue, and video assistant referees did not step in.

What did Nuno Espirito Santo say?

With Clattenburg at the helm, Nottingham Forest have an exciting road ahead of them. Though unusual, the position of referees’ analyst reflects the sport’s dynamic nature, where players who grasp and use the nuances of refereeing have a distinct advantage.

With Clattenburg’s knowledge, the Reds should be able to better understand and respect on-field choices as the season progresses. Additionally, other clubs may follow their lead and change the narrative from one of conflict to one of cooperation by cultivating closer connections with the officiating community.

Now that the former referee has been appointed, the team’s coach Nuno Espirito Santo is hoping that VAR rulings will be clarified.

“I have not seen him yet. But what I expect is that somebody so expert and so good, will give us a clear view and a clear opinion on what is happening. I think everyone in this room is asking that. For me, I am asking myself why. I can accept that the referee did not see it.

“But when we have VAR, when it is so obvious, what I expect from Mark is that he will be able to say ‘this is why that was obvious’.

“We should have had a penalty, yes. When something is so obvious, I cannot say anything else other than the truth. For me, it is a penalty. Perhaps the referee did not see it. But if he has not seen it, VAR has to interfere and do something.

“They took two minutes to check it. After you have seen it, you ask yourself ‘why?’. Today the result was different. But that was not the case last week (against Newcastle), when the outcome was different”, he said.

Photo: IMAGO / PA Images