Saints hit back in Clattenburg case
Southampton have refused to accept the refereeing chiefs' decision to rule out action against Mark Clattenburg after he was accused of verbally abusing midfielder Adam Lallana.
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Saints are considering an appeal to the Football Association over the ruling by the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) that Clattenburg has no case to answer for his conduct in the 2-1 Barclays Premier League defeat to Everton on December 29.
Southampton wrote to the referees' governing body on New Year's Eve to formalise their complaint against Clattenburg.
But after a review the PGMOL has ruled there is no case to answer.
In a letter seen by Press Association Sport, Southampton claimed Clattenburg told Lallana: "You are very different now, since you've played for England - you never used to be like this."
Now Southampton have pledged not to let the matter lie.
A club spokesman said: "An official insulting any player, no matter his intentions, is clearly not acceptable behaviour. For this reason we do not accept the verdict of the PGMOL in relation to this case and do not consider the matter to be over.
"Under the circumstances we do not feel it appropriate for Mr Clattenburg to officiate in any of our matches until this matter is properly resolved."
Clattenburg is scheduled to officiate at Saturday's FA Cup third-round north London derby clash between Arsenal and Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium.
A PGMOL statement confirmed the north east-based referee will take charge of that match as planned.
The statement read: "PGMOL is committed to constructive dialogue and communication with clubs, managers and players.
"On December 31 PGMOL received a letter from Southampton who raised concerns about the conduct of Mark Clattenburg following their game with Everton on December 29.
"In a written response to Southampton, PGMOL acknowledge that their complaint has been considered in full.
"However, given the nature of the conversation with the player, having reviewed the footage and spoken to the team of officials as well as the Premier League match delegate it has been found that there is no case to answer.
"Mark has the full support of PGMOL management and will be considered for selection for all and any matches going forward in the usual way."
Clattenburg is no stranger to controversy after Chelsea accused him of racially abusing midfielder John Mikel Obi last season in a hot-tempered Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
It took an FA inquiry to rule there was no case to answer and six months later Clattenburg was back officiating Chelsea once again.
The Saints take on Burnley in the FA Cup third round on Saturday and assistant manager Jesus Perez is adamant the situation surrounding Clattenburg and Lallana will not overshadow their preparations.
The Clarets are flying high in second place in the Sky Bet Championship and Perez, speaking before the PGMOL issued its ruling, is certain the players can maintain their focus.
"Our way always is when the game is over, it's time to think about the next game," he said.
"So our full focus is to prepare well for the next game, then to ensure we're in best condition for the next match.
"That's our style since we came to England.
"When you are in this business you have to be aware everything is possible.
"We're in the best league, the best environment, in terms of business and media, so we have to respect everything because everyone is proud of this business.
"So it's not difficult for us: we focus and we put our players away from the problems and just think about the football."