Mark Clattenburg left off the referees list
for the weekend
Mark Clattenburg will not referee for a second weekend running after informing Mike Riley, the
general manager of Professional Game Match Officials Limited, that he needs time to prepare to
answer accusations from Chelsea that he used "inappropriate language" towards Mikel John Obi.
The Football Association is investigating Chelsea's claims, which were made in the aftermath of
Manchester United's 3-2 victory at Stamford Bridge eightdays ago. Clattenburg is due to meet the FA
this week, as well as the police, who launched an inquiry after a complaint was made by the Society
of Black Lawyers. The 37-year-old is understood to strenuously deny Chelsea's allegations, which
include the accusation that there was a racial element to his comments to Mikel.
Clattenburg was stood down from Premier League duty last weekend because of the intense
spotlight on the official in the wake of the Chelsea-United match. Riley, however, was prepared to
appoint Clattenburg to take charge of a Premier League game for this weekend's fixtures until he
met the official and it was agreed the timing was not right to return. Clattenburg feels that he needs
to focus his mind on his meetings with the FA and the police and there is also a sense that it would
be extremely difficult for him to referee when he remains in the eye of a storm.
Riley said: "PGMOL was fully prepared to appoint Mark to matches this weekend. However, having
discussed this with him, we both consider that it is in Mark's best interests that he has this week
away from officiating duties while he prepares to help the FA and police with their inquiries."
There is no suggestion that Clattenburg, who has received complete support from the PGMOL, as
well as backing from leading managers in the game, will stay away from refereeing until the
investigation has been completed. It is more a case that, at this moment, the events at Stamford
Bridge continue to feel raw for Clattenburg, who has been under siege from certain sections of the
media since the story broke. There are concerns that if Clattenburg returned now, the focus would
be on the referee rather than the game.
The controversy at Stamford Bridge has prompted wider debate about referees, although Riley
insisted that officials enjoy better relations with managers and players than they have done for a
long time. "PGMOL has one of the world's finest refereeing groups, they are focused on delivering
high officiating standards to the Premier League and the overall morale of the group remains high,"
Riley said. "The relationship between players, managers and match officials has improved both on
and off pitch over the last four seasons and there is every reason to think this will continue."
Meanwhile, a 28-year-old man has been arrested over an allegation that a racist gesture was made
towards Danny Welbeck during Chelsea's Capital One Cup tie against Manchester United last
Wednesday. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "He was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated
Section 4a Public Order Act offence and currently remains in custody at the west London police
station. Inquiries continue."