Football: Chelsea admitted regret today over their handling of the complaint of racist abuse against Mark Clattenburg.
The European champions issued a joint statement with referees body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) and the Premier League in which they said they should have “given more consideration” before making their allegation public.
The allegations against Clattenburg, who stood accused of using “inappropriate language” towards midfielder Jon Obi Mikel, were thrown out by the Football Association last week.
The release of the statement followed a meeting between the three parties involved and included Clattenburg, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, the remaining 15 Select Group referees, PGMOL general manager Mike Riley and Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore.
It read: “There was a constructive and open discussion. The club regrets not having given more consideration before issuing a statement on the evening of Sunday October 28.
“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 host Fulham in one of eight Premier League matches tomorrow night, with new Blues manager Rafael Benitez braced for a similarly hot reception to the one he received from his own supporters at Stamford Bridge when his side were held to a goalless draw by Manchester City.
Chelsea fans have called on the Spaniard to apologise for comments he made about the west London club when manager of Liverpool, something he continued to resist today.
Questioning the accuracy of remarks attributed to him, Benitez said: “The problem is we can analyse what I said and didn’t say.
“We can’t be checking if it’s true or not. I’ll try my best to win their trust. That’s it.”