Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey has slammed the decision not to send off Nottingham Forest’s Scott McKenna for handball against West Ham on Sunday.

The Forest defender used his arm to deflect Tomas Soucek’s shot away from goal in the second-half of the Hammers’ 1-0 defeat at the City Ground.

Referee Rob Jones awarded a penalty, following a pitch-side VAR review, but only proceeded to caution McKenna with a yellow card.

The reason for that remains unknown, although it could be said that Jones only felt it was a booking because goalkeeper Dean Henderson was directly behind McKenna when he handballed it.

Declan Rice missed the resulting penalty and the Hammers still went on to lose the game, but Halsey doesn’t just believe the decision shouldn’t have needed a VAR review in the first place, he feels the laws of the game were not used correctly in this instance.

Speaking to the We Are West Ham Podcast on Monday, he said: “I was surprised that Rob Jones didn’t see that in real-time, a referee at that level should be seeing that instantly because he’s got an uninterrupted view, he’s looking straight at it.

“I think, had he seen it properly in its entirety he would’ve given the penalty and sent McKenna off, and it wouldn’t have been reviewed.

“When I saw that happen I went ‘handball, red card, he’s got to go.’ He’s denied a goal or his opponents an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

“Irrespective of where the goalkeeper is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t know that he’s going to save that ball. I think it was going at pace and it was above his arms, because he was already going down, the goalkeeper.

“But it’s irrespective of the goalkeeper’s positioning. For me, that should have been a red card, a sending-off for the denial of a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

“There’s nothing in the laws of the game, in Law 12, that mentions the goalkeeper’s positioning behind the player.

“I know that I’ve heard some of my ex-colleagues say that they thought it was the correct decision because the goalkeeper was behind him. That’s nonsense, it’s absolute nonsense.

“The IFB Laws of the Game, look it up and it will tell you.”

Of course, we went to check out what Law 12 has to say about the matter in question, and here’s exactly what it says: “Where a player denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by a handball offence, the player is sent off wherever the offence occurs (except a goalkeeper within their penalty area).”

So, the reference of the goalkeeper in that law is purely to remind people that goalkeepers s cannot be penalised for using their hands within their penalty area.

It does not make any reference to the positioning of a goalkeeper when the offence happens, meaning McKenna should’ve seen red at the weekend.

Indeed, this is all retrospective but had McKenna walked and Rice had still missed his penalty, there’s no way of knowing if the Hammers had still found a way past the 10 men of Nottingham Forest after that, rather than the 11 that were allowed to stay on the field after the clear red card offence.