Chelsea express Clattenburg 'regret'
Chelsea have attempted to draw a line under the latest race row to engulf the club after formally expressing "regrets" over their handling of the Mark Clattenburg affair.
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The European champions admitted they should have "given more consideration" before making public allegations referee Clattenburg racially abused midfielder John Obi Mikel during their explosive defeat to Manchester United on October 28.
Clattenburg was last week cleared of any wrongdoing after The Football Association last week decided has had no case to answer over Chelsea's complaint he called John Obi Mikel a "monkey", with police having already shelved a probe into the matter.
Chelsea's handling of the allegation and their refusal to apologise prompted a furious backlash against a club already tainted by the John Terry racism scandal.
That prompted chairman Bruce Buck to arrange a meeting on Monday where he spoke with Clattenburg, the remaining 15 Select Group referees, their boss - Professional Game Match Officials general manager Mike Riley - and Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore.
A joint statement was issued this afternoon between the three parties, which read: "Following the completion of the investigation by the FA into the case involving Chelsea FC and Mark Clattenburg, the Premier League and Chelsea FC requested, and PGMOL agreed, to meet in order to discuss the issues surrounding the reporting of the allegation.
"The Select Group appreciated the opportunity to speak to Bruce Buck personally. His willingness to engage and answer all the questions put to him was welcomed. There was a constructive and open discussion.
"The club regrets not having given more consideration before issuing a statement on the evening of Sunday 28th October.
"The club also regrets the subsequent impact the intense media scrutiny had on Mark Clattenburg and his family.
"The referees accept that, given Chelsea FC had received a good-faith claim from one of their employees, the club had an obligation under FA rules to report the allegation.
"There was recognition by all parties that the impartiality and integrity of refereeing in this country remains paramount. Chelsea FC made it clear they would welcome Mark Clattenburg back to Stamford Bridge in the future and PGMOL would have no issue in appointing him to a Chelsea FC match going forward.
"It was a thoroughly professional meeting. All parties now believe it is time to draw a line under this incident, learn from it and move on for the good of all Premier League clubs, players and match officials."
Chelsea made their complaint against Clattenburg after midfielder Ramires claimed the official had racially abused Mikel during the Barclays Premier League game against United.
The Blues went public with their allegation hours after the final whistle, the timing of which particularly angered the referee and his fellow officials.
Upon being cleared, Clattenburg said in a statement: "To know you were innocent of something but that there was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly frightening.
"I know first hand the ramifications of allegations of this nature being placed into the public domain ahead of a formal process and investigation. I hope no referee has to go through this in the future."
Press Association Sport understands a handshake took place between Buck and Clattenburg during Monday's meeting.
It is also understood one of the reasons Tuesday's joint statement did not contain the word "sorry" was because the player who made the claim stands by his allegation.
Ramires told Mikel he heard Clattenburg say, "Shut up you monkey", to his fellow midfielder, something the FA found no corroborating evidence for.
They did conclude, however, that Chelsea were correct to report the matter and that it "was appropriate and proper for such an allegation to be thoroughly investigated".
The Blues saying they were wrong to make the complaint could also open them up to legal action, something Clattenburg is understood not to want to pursue.
He was stood down while the FA probe took place and returned to work as a fourth official in Saturday's game between Tottenham and West Ham.
He is scheduled to be the man in the middle for the first time in exactly a month during Southampton's match with Norwich on Wednesday.
Metropolitan Police dropped their investigation into the matter earlier this month when no victim came forward following a complaint from the Society of Black Lawyers.
Upon clearing Clattenburg, the FA charged Mikel with misconduct for his post-match behaviour which saw him angrily confront the referee in the officials' room after the United match.
Mikel did not contest the charge but requested a personal hearing in which Chelsea hoped mitigating circumstances would be taken into consideration.
Referees' union Prospect, who had led calls for Chelsea to apologise to Clattenburg and pay some form of compensation, has dropped the latter demand.
National secretary Alan Leighton said the use of the word "regrets" in the joint statement were tantamount to and accepted by Clattenburg and the Select Group as an apology.
"This was an important move forward in confirming Chelsea's recognition of Mark's integrity and impartiality," he said in a statement.
Leighton said the referees "welcomed the opportunity to express their concerns about the way that Mark had been treated".
He added: "In a thoroughly professional manner, they explained what the impact had been in real terms and that there could be no repetition of the events."