Chelsea admit regrets over Mark Clattenburg race row

We got it wrong over Clattenburg, admit Chelsea… but still no apology for starting ref race storm

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UPDATED:

19:22 GMT, 27 November 2012

Chelsea have at last admitted they ‘regret’ being so quick to accuse Mark Clattenburg of racially abusing two of their players — but they have STILL not apologised for making the accusation public.

The club held secret peace talks with Clattenburg and his 15 elite referee colleagues on Monday.

Bruce Buck, the Stamford Bridge chairman, travelled to the National Football Centre at St George’s Park on the request of all Premier League match officials.

Dragged through the mud: Chelsea say they regret the way they acted over the Mark Clattenburg debacle

Dragged through the mud: Chelsea say they regret the way they acted over the Mark Clattenburg debacle

Allegations: Chelsea claimed Clattenburg had referred to John Obi Mikel as a 'monkey'

Allegations: Chelsea claimed Clattenburg had referred to John Obi Mikel as a 'monkey'

They met in a bid to repair the damage
caused by the false accusations of racism that were levelled against
Clattenburg. At some point during the meeting Buck shook hands with the referee.

Part of the discussion even focused on the possibility of Clattenburg taking charge of a Chelsea game in the future.

Referee's union Prospect welcomed the joint statement by PGMOL, the Premier League, and Chelsea.

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.'

The joint statement read: ‘A meeting took place on Monday afternoon at St George’s Park between Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the Premier League and Chelsea Football Club.

‘PGMOL were represented by General Manager Mike Riley and all 16 Select Group referees, the Premier League by Chief Executive Richard Scudamore and Chelsea FC by Chairman Bruce Buck.

Trip: Bruce Buck (left) went to St Georges to speak to Clattenburg and the other referees, as well as Mike Riley and Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore

Trip: Bruce Buck (left) went to St Georges to speak to Clattenburg and the other referees, as well as Mike Riley and Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore

This is a joint statement from all parties.

‘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.

‘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.’

The Football Association last week decided to take no disciplinary action against Clattenburg following an investigation into Chelsea's allegation he used 'inappropriate language' against midfielder John Obi Mikel, while the police also shelved a probe into the matter.