Referees chief Michael Riley has confirmed Premier League plans to record all match officials' conversations during games in the wake of the Mark Clattenburg incident. The Football Association announced referee Clattenburg will not face disciplinary action over a complaint of the use of inappropriate language directed towards Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel. The FA decided there is "no case to answer" over an allegation the referee said "shut up you monkey" to Mikel during Chelsea's 3-2 defeat to Manchester United.
The episode has led to plans for private recordings of conversations between officials. Michael Riley, general manager of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), said: "It is PGMOL's considered view that Mark is completely exonerated of the allegation and he will return to active duty shortly without any stain on his character or reputation. The verbal and visual facts do not support any of the allegations made against him. They make it clear that Mark did not use any inappropriate language towards any Chelsea player. Regrettably, Mark has had to endure four weeks that have brought massive disruption to his professional and personal life through no fault of his own. We are all relieved that this is now behind him and that he can return to doing something that he loves. To reduce the risk of an episode of this nature being repeated, PGMOL will introduce recording of the referees' communication system on a private basis."
Chelsea have been criticised for the way they handled their complaint against Mark Clattenburg by Alan Leighton, the national secretary of the referees' union Prospect. In an interview with BBC Radio Five Live, Leighton also claimed that Chelsea's behaviour could deter other dissuade players from reporting instances of racial abuse in the future. "We think this is the wrong way to go about combating racism, and in fact what Chelsea have done could put people off making legitimate claims when they have been subjected to racial abuse," Leighton said. “It's been terrible for him, he's been through a living hell. He's had the press camped on his lawn. He's had to live with walking down the street and people either pointing at him or him thinking people are thinking, 'Oh, that's the racist referee'. Everybody always remembers an allegation but not everybody always remembers the outcome." Chelsea have so far made no apology to Clattenburg for his ordeal, and noted in their statement earlier this week that the Football Association felt the complaint had been made in good faith. Leighton believes Clattenburg wants to avoid a legal battle such a scenario and put the matter behind him. "If Chelsea want to make an apology, pay compensation and get Mark to sign an agreement saying he won't take legal action, I'm sure we can do that." Meanwhile, Leighton hopes it is not too long before Clattenburg takes charge of another Chelsea game. "I think if there was too long a delay in refereeing Chelsea then I think the issue gets dragged out again,'' he said. "The key issue for Mark is getting back to refereeing and getting back to normal, and that means refereeing Chelsea as soon as he possibly can."