I am sending this email to complain about the appalling standard of officiating displayed by one of your referees – Scott Duncan – in the Football League Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday at the City Ground, Nottingham on Tuesday 8th April 2014.
As a Nottingham Forest fan you will probably assume that my view is biased and, of course, to a degree it is. However, most fans, however biased they may be, can take decisions being given against their team, as long as the referee appears to be consistent. In the case of Mr. Duncan however, consistency was totally lacking.
Here is a list of decisions which I believe, having attended the match and seen subsequent replays, that Mr. Duncan and his assistants got wrong:
· The Sheffield Wednesday penalty – Forest defender Danny Collins clearly and cleanly wins the ball before making any contact with Wednesday attacker Chris Maguire. I don’t believe the assistant referee – who was better placed – flagged for a penalty, yet Mr. Duncan overruled him
· Leon Best – Repeatedly fouled Forest players and was repeatedly warned, yet never received a yellow card
· Joe Mattock – Had hold of Jamie Mackie’s shirt. Mackie eventually broke free and made his way into the penalty area, only for play to be stopped so Mattock could be booked. The booking was correct, but advantage should have been played
· Jamie Mackie’s booking – Mackie took a shot on goal and his follow through caught a Wednesday defender. He was shooting, not tackling and this shouldn’t have even been a free kick
· Sheffield Wednesday’s second goal – Lewis Buxton appeared to lead with his arm as he jumped against Forest keeper Karl Darlow, and may even have handled the ball in, yet the goal stood
· Jeremy Helan – Had already been booked and then proceeded to kick the ball away after Forest had been awarded a free kick. Did not receive a second yellow card
These decisions are just the ones I'm certain on. There were several others, such as what appeared to be a blatant foul on a Forest player in the penalty area in the second half and was not given as a penalty, of which I am not as certain. This is because I was sitting in the ground – not keeping up with play as Mr. Duncan should have been doing.
As I stated earlier, most fans understand that referees have a difficult job and can accept some errors being made. What, however, we cannot and should not have to accept is inconsistent application of the rules. What we should also not have to accept is that the officials seem to be in no way accountable for their errors. After last night’s shambolic performance, Mr. Duncan should at least have to explain his decisions, if not apologise for them, and if his assessors were watching the game then they should make sure he is not allowed to officiate again for some time; at least until he has gained a fundamental grasp of the laws of the game and the ability to apply them consistently.
I don’t expect any reply to this, nor any action to be taken against Mr. Duncan, as I imagine the arrogance which seems to pervasive among many match officials comes down from those who appoint them. Try to remember though – seasons can turn on the actions of officials and consistently poor performances might, ultimately, turn fans away from football. And without the fans, football and its governing bodies are nothing.