Tuesday night in the Championship featured all the conditions that every professional sports league dreams of. Namely, just before the end of the season, you’ve got a match that translates into direct promotion to the coveted Premier League; a game that could greatly change a club’s history, if one considers that league play revenues alone, of up to 193 million euros, can re-write the future of any football club.

“You must be crazy if you watch Liverpool tonight,” many football fans posted on Twitter, fans who consciously chose to watch the match at Vitality Stadium between Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest, and not the second leg of the Champions League semi-final between Villarreal and Liverpool at the same time.

Many fans urged others to watch the Bournemouth-Nottingham Forest derby, or, in other words, to watch a Championship match and not the Champions League semi-final.

What better way could a sports league come up with for marketing for its product?

Were those who ultimately chose to watch this game and not the big comeback of Jürgen  Klopp’s team vindicated?

Judging by the result, everyone now understands that this football “celebration” ended in a “fiasco”, because the direct promotion to the Premier League wasn’t decided by either team’s competitive form, or by their performance on Tuesday. In large part, everything was decided by a major refereeing mistake.

In the 41st minute, a glaring penalty violation in ​​Bournemouth’s box wasn’t called, as it should have, because the second assistant referee, Constantine Hatzidakis, himself of Greek origin, incorrectly raised an offside flag that negated a clear takedown of Forest striker Sam Surridge by Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers, as the former tried to round him. The foul, which would have resulted in a penalty kick for Forest, was waved away as the flag was already up.

Nottingham Forest, which was three points behind Bournemouth prior to the game, was looking only for a victory. Surridge hit the crossbar with a strike in the 7th minute, followed by a missed one-on-one by forward Brennan Johnson in the 34th minute, and then the penalty non-call with the foul against Surridge in the box, all of which could have resulted in a score-opening goal that would have brought the match to Forest’s advantage.

The glaring mistake did not simply deprive Nottingham Forest of the opportunity, but as it turned out irritated the club’s players to such an extent that in the second half the team appeared completely different from the first half, to such a degree that Forest eventually lost the game.

A tragic irony?

Bournemouth’s scorer in the 83rd minute was Kiefer Moore. He was one of the Bournemouth players the club didn’t have at its disposal when the match was originally scheduled to take place, back on Feb. 18, 2022.

But why was the match postponed back in February?

The reason, according to Bournemouth, was the severe bad weather and strong winds that had damaged parts of Vitality Stadium, and specifically a roof above one of the stands. Nevertheless, some people at the time said the postponement may have have resulted from other… turbulence, such as the “winds of war” that were swirling over Ukraine. A reminder: the war in Ukraine began on Feb. 24, 2022.

Late February was a period when Russian oligarchs in Europe had instantaneously found themselves in between Vladimir Putin and the West’s reaction to the evil that was soon coming.

A coincidence?

The majority owner of Bournemouth, Maxim Demin, was on the initial list of oligarchs, next to Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich, Everton-linked Alisher Usmanov and others.

Yet over the course of the next few months Maxim Demin became the … exception to the rule.

To begin with, Boris Johnson himself set Demin apart from the others. “He has a British passport,” was the official line for the Russian billionaire who, in addition to Bournemouth, owns two large companies in Britain: Wintel, a fuel, minerals and industrial chemicals trader, and Wintel Holdings Ltd.

In Demin’s case, a “domino-effect” in terms of relations with his homeland and with Vladimir Putin not only failed to affect his position and role in Britain’s business world, his relations didn’t even affect his presence in football. Bournemouth, unlike European champions Chelsea, felt no impact, and in the end, was promoted to the Premier League on the back of a blatant refereeing error – a mistake that did not just alter one evening’s match, but the scenario for an entire season; for the Championship League, for Bournemouth and for Vangelis Marinakis’ Nottingham Forest.

How did the Greek owner of the Reds react?

BBC reporter Colin Fray, a sportswriter focusing on Nottingham Forest FC, revealed that he spoke by phone with Mr. Marinakis on Wednesday.

Speaking on BBC Radio Nottingham, Fray discussed an impromptu call from the Forest owner to vent his frustrations.

Fray said: “…I took a phone call last night from Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis. He did not want to be interviewed, but told me of his frustrations. He said he is not happy with the federation, in this case the EFL.”

Apart from the officiating mistakes, the EFL is obviously under scrutiny for its decision to postpone the match in February, and hold it in May.

Back then (February), yesterday’s scorer, Kieffer Moore, was one of the players on the ‘Cherries’ injury list at the time, meaning he wouldn’t be present if the game had taken place on the scheduled date.

“Mr Marinakis said he wants to express his frustration and a desire to see a fair referee and federation so that the game can be decided on the grass…” Fray was quoted as saying.

Asked what Forest can do, Fray stressed: “There are limited options. Referees are marked by clubs in every match and they are assessed. This doesn’t seem to be helping, in my opinion I don’t think Forest have had many good officials this season particularly.

He added: “Mr Marinakis told me they have written letters several times but nothing happens. He says he is frustrated because he is putting millions of pounds into the club. From Mr Marinakis’ point of view millions of pounds have gone into the squad and team. He has finally got the head coach and the squad in place and he feels promotion has been snatched away.”

Ακολουθήστε τον ot.grστο Google News και μάθετε πρώτοι όλες τις ειδήσεις
Δείτε όλες τις τελευταίες Ειδήσεις από την Ελλάδα και τον Κόσμο, στον ot.gr

Latest News

Πρόσφατα Άρθρα English Edition