Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis has hit out at EFL after claiming refereeing decisions – and in particular one in Tuesday’s crunch defeat at Bournemouth – has cost the Reds a place in the Premier League.
The Tricky Trees were last in the top flight all the way back in 1999, a 23-year hiatus. However, Steve Cooper has done a remarkable job since taking charge, leading the side from the depths on the table to on the cusp of automatic promotion.
And they could have put themselves firmly in the mix to go up had they managed a win at Bournemouth on Tuesday. Forest went into the game looking for a win that would have set up a final-day shoot-out for promotion.
However, a Kieffer Moore goal on 83 minutes earned the Cherries a 1-0 win – and secured their berth back in the Premier League.
That means Forest will have to do it the hard way through the play-offs.
And while they can still achieve their aim of securing promotion, Mariankis reckons officials have conspired against them.
The outspoken owner claims Forest were denied a first-half penalty after Sam Surridge was felled in the area by Cherries goalkeeper Mark Travers.
However, before referee Stuart Attwell could even make the decision, his linesman controversially flagged for offside.
Speaking to BBC Nottingham Sport , Mariankis was clearly far from happy.
Marinakis claims he is “not happy” with the EFL and feels they have “not backed” his side this season.
He also claims his side have ‘not been backed’ all season, with a number of other controversial decisions costing them.
Marinakis fuming at initial Bournemouth v Forest postponement
In particular Marinakis is also voicing his pleasure at the controversial postponement of February’s clash at the Vitality.
That game was pulled, and ultimately rescheduled to Tuesday, with Storm Eunice having caused damage to Bournemouth’s ground.
At the time of the initial fixture, Bournemouth had a number of players unavailable to play. And one which – Moore – went on to score the winner on Tuesday night.
The 54-year-old also claims he has a “desire to see a fair referee and federation so that the game can be decided by the players on the grass” as he is “putting millions of pounds into the club”.
The Greek businessman also claims he has written letters to the EFL on a number of occasions to express his concerns. Ultimately though, Mariankis says “nothing happens”.
To add to the controversy, Nottingham Forest boss Cooper claims referee Attwell offered him an apology after the game.
Cooper said: “The players are disappointed, of course. And really annoyed with the ref; really annoyed with the referee.
“When the referee has asked to see me and apologised, held his hands up, it doesn’t make it any better.
“I think he’s tried to soften me up, to be honest, because he knows he and the linesman have made a huge error.
“But it won’t soften me up. These things need to be reported correctly, which we do.
“There’s a lot of annoyance at that. There’s disappointment, but we don’t say too much after games. We’ll get back, reflect and keep going.”
Forest a welcome addition to the Premier League
Forest are long overdue a return to the Premier League and their return would be a fitting reward for many years of hurt for their fans.
The Reds have an exceptional manager in Cooper and a solid and exciting side. Indeed, they have shown in cup competitions this season just how ready they are to make that step up.
However, while they can feel aggrieved to have missed out automatically, there is only way to answer those complaints.
And with the Championship play-offs just around the corner, Cooper and Co will look to finish the job off.
They certainly should not fear anyone in the play-offs either. That defeat at Bournemouth was just their third of the calendar year.
Promotion will also ensure Forest can retain a number of their top stars, such as Brennan Johnson next season.
TEAMtalk also understands that another of their top stars, Djed Spence, would be willing to stay in the event of promotion.
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