Players and club officials have had a series of interviews with external legal
counsel since Sunday’s fractious 3-2 defeat against
Signed witness statements, including those from Mikel and Ramires, were forwarded to the FA who, along with the Metropolitan Police, will now investigate the allegation.
Chelsea have not complained directly to the police, regarding the FA as the appropriate body to investigate. There is pressure now on the FA to quickly conclude their inquiries. They will seek interviews with all relevant witnesses, including Mikel, Clattenburg and his team of officials, and will also request available video footage.
After Ashley Cole was accused of providing “evolving” evidence in an interview that was based on the notes of an FA investigator during the investigation into John Terry, Chelsea will insist that all interviews for the Mikel complaint are taped.
On Sunday, Chelsea had alleged that there was also a second separate incident of “inappropriate” language from Clattenburg directed at Mata.This complaint, however, has been dropped following their own internal investigation, with legal counsel advising that there was insufficient evidence.
Oriol Romeu had been quoted in an interview with Spanish radio on Tuesday suggesting that Mata had not heard what Clattenburg said.
Chelsea, though, did decide that there was sufficient evidence to support their complaint in relation to Mikel. “This is a result of a thorough investigation carried out by the club, and led by outside legal counsel, of all information available to us, including interviews with a number of players and staff,” said a statement.
Chelsea on Wednesday also provided more detail on the events that followed the final whistle on Sunday. Mikel and manager Roberto di Matteo had challenged Clattenburg in the referee’s room but they were not joined by chief executive Ron Gourlay. Board members, however, were made aware of the allegations upon entering the Chelsea dressing room.
“Board members began establishing the details of the allegations, speaking to all relevant players and staff,” said Chelsea’s statement. “After those initial interviews it was clear that the matter had to be reported. The correct protocol for doing so was to report the incidents to the match delegate, and the club took immediate steps to inform him as soon as he was available. It was not a decision the club took lightly.”
Clattenburg has made no public comment beyond welcoming the chance to establish the full facts but is known to vehemently deny the allegation against him. Prospect, the referees’ union, has pledged its “full support” and the wider refereeing community are also said to be united in their support.
The evidence of his assistants, Michael McDonough and Simon Long, and the fourth official, Mike Jones, is likely to be highly important given that they were all linked up by microphone and should have been able to hear what Clattenburg was saying.
Clattenburg, 37, was on Wedxnesday described by Graham Poll, a former Premier League referee, as “angry and confused”. Poll said: “I know he’s feeling angry because he doesn’t feel he’s done anything wrong. He’s angry because he’s being accused of something he doesn’t feel he did, and confused because, in his mind, he’s done nothing wrong and yet ended up as the victim.”
The FA and the police are also continuing to investigate how a steward came to be hospitalised during Sunday’s game after Javier Hernandez’s winning goal. The FA could take action against Chelsea for the behavior of their fans and, if it forms part of Clattenburg’s “extraordinary incident” report, also the behaviour of players or staff towards officials after Sunday’s game.
Mikel and Mata both again played for Chelsea against Manchester United in the Capital One Cup match after reassuring Di Matteo that they were in the correct frame of mind. Chelsea had used the programme for Wednesday night’s match to remind supporters’ of their responsibilities to one another but there was further bad behaviour, with a flare being thrown on to the pitch and a fan running on to the playing surface during the game.