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What to make of Clatternburg; what to make of Chelsea? Where on earth are we going?

By Tony Attwood

Graham Poll, in his book, tells the tale of how in 2007 Ashley Cole accused him of once saying that Chelsea needed bringing down a peg or two.  The offence of Chelsea at the time in what passes for a mind within A Cole was that he had sent off John Terry.  He also did not allow a Drogba goal in a game against Tottenham.

John Terry then joined in and said that the referee had altered his account of the sending off in order to cover his own back.  The FA then stepped into the muck and charged John Terry with improper conduct and fined him £10,000.  Terry was invited to apologise to the FA and Graham Poll and refused.

Since then we have had the racism trials, we have had the 2009 saga of Terry taking cash in return for a tour of the Chelsea training ground.  (Mind you the fact  that it was the News of the World which claimed that Terry took a £10,000 payment doesn’t help the story).  So it goes, although stories regarding Chelsea need little help after A Cole took an air rifle to work and shot a trainee player.

Who knows what Clattenburg said to two players during a recent game, but perhaps the Chelsea case is not helped by the fact that Terry didn’t play last night because he is suspended after what he said to Anton Ferdinand a year ago.

It is said in some quarters that if nothing else, that tells us that Chelsea has now entered a new level of siege mentality.  Us against everyone is an ok approach (I have always had the feeling George Graham did this) but there has to be a limit somewhere.

Of course it is one of those things on which everyone has an opinion.  Neil Warnock even had an opinion.  “I’m on Mark Clattenburg’s side. They are trying to kill him and I don’t agree with that at all.”

That is worthy of note because when Leeds United’s manager was Dennis Wise he accused a ref of much the same sort of thing in 2007.

There’s another thing however that I can’t work out.  Is Chelsea making a complaint or are they just throwing muck around the place?  If they do make a complaint, then they need evidence.  If they don’t then by making the original complaint they are now guilty of bringing the game into disrepute.

The FA has already had a go at Chelsea of what it saw were problems within Cole’s evidence in the Terry hearing.  If they get Chelsea before them again, presumably there will be another fine which raises the question: can you count fines as expenses when calculating if you are in the FFP guidelinese?

In our review of Clattenburg last season we found him to be one of the better referees with a below average level of bias.  But here’s an interesting point from that review:

“The only game he did from Manchester United was the derby against Manchester City when United got beaten by 1-6. And even though Clattenburg was rather biased in favour of United in that game he never got another United game since that day. Is this a coincidence?  Remember he is a Fifa ref so… well rather strange…”

And a bit later…

“The only question remains: why didn’t he get to do another Manchester United game after their defeat against their local rivals? I remember from that review he did all he could to not help Manchester City. He refused to give a blatant penalty for City. But for some reason it looks as if a certain person didn’t like the final result, and thus didn’t like the ref who allowed this to happen…and he never came back.”

If Chelsea are trying to influence referees and stop them doing any more of their matches, all one can say is that they are a lot less subtle than Manchester United.

But perhaps most of all what we can say is that this is getting totally out of hand.  Racism and inappropriate remarks must not be part of football – surely everyone agrees.  But, when a club makes complaints about refs in this way – complaints which are going to be very hard to unravel, where on earth do we go next?

When George Graham’s team were docked two points after a match at Manchester United, my recollection is that Arsenal did not appeal or say anything, no matter that to my Arsenal coloured eyes the punishment was bizarre – why suddenly two points?  Why not a fine?   But the matter was let go and Arsenal proceeded to win the league.

Times, it seems, have changed

Last story: 

You can support Arsenal or you can walk out.  One of these is better for your health.


The books…

The sites…

23 comments to What to make of Clatternburg; what to make of Chelsea? Where on earth are we going?

  • Timmy

    Times indeed have changed

  • Sir Cecil

    Foolish article. The same idiots saying Chelsea are at fault for reporting the referee, would be the first ones to scream murder if it was revealed Chelsea did NOT report the ref when it was reported to them that their black players had been abused.
    Imagine if Mikel came out and said “I was racially abused but Chelsea would not make a protest on my behalf”. Every paper would condemn the club for not being tough on racism! They’d tell us how disgusted they are that poor old Mikel was left unsupported in the face of racism.
    You are all so puerile it’s disgusting.

  • Daniel Wong

    Why is it refs who officiated at games whic MU lost are denied another one at OT for a year or banned permanently?
    What about refs who have given decisions against Arsenal still doing the rounds with the gunners?
    That means double std.If the FA want to clear the air about refs favouring MU,they shd hire Euro or UEFA refs,otherwise the perception remains the refs are helping the red faced to win all the time. That’s why he is flounderig in the cl.Even with RVP ,I doubt he will make headway.

  • Sir Cecil

    Like old women talking over the garden fence, gossiping about their neighbours, all the while whining and finger pointing and with nothing more exciting in their lives. Grow up. If you’re concerned about racism, go and do something positive instead of waffling about it here. Volunteer for something worthwhile. Do some good. Give up a Saturday match and give some time and energy to anti-racism organizations. Otherwise, stick to the football and leave racism matters to those with the brains to talk sensibly on the subject.

  • Mic

    What is your problem,cecil? Tell us why you disagree with the article rather behave like a spoilt child.

  • lanre

    I could now see why RVP wanted manU, he claim he want to work less on the field, so players know manU are been match favour.

  • ARSENAL 13


    I smell something fishy here. After all the things that happened, past couple of seasons, I doubt ref would have made such a blunder.

    And guess what, after the Terry episode, Chelsea are now the whistle blowers

    If Clatenburg has racially abused Mikel, then he should be punished. BUT if the allegations are not true, I propose a very very very strict action against Mikel and Chelsea. You just cant accuse an innocent person.

  • Mandy Dodd

    If he said what Chelsea seem to be claiming, he deserves all he gets….but I would be absolutely amazed if he said anything close to that, that would not only be wrong, it would be professional suicide, and something that would not be covered up by his miked up partners… surely.
    Chelsea have history telling porkies about refs…John Terry Graham Poll….hell they even have history telling fibs about Reading paramedics.
    Are they a rogue club? IF they are giving out false info about this ref, combined with the fact there were reportedly 4 of them including the CEO in the refs dressing room after the game, someone allegedly threatening to break someones legs….IF Chelsea are guilty of all this, surely that merits bans, fines and at least 10 points deducted?
    Clattenberg is a good ref,who messed up…for what ever reason in Utds favour last weekend. Thereagain, they all do!

  • marcus

    What a mess. Seems like Chelsea are throwing the toys out of the pram – only trouble is with Chelsea, their toys are guns

  • marcus

    Of course if the Spaniards’ allegations are true, then Football really is screwed up

  • 1NiltotheArsenal

    In Clattenburg’s kit bag in the locker room after the game officials found a book titled, “How to Talk Trash on the Pitch” by J. Terry. Any connection there, I wonder?

  • Stuart


    Just to counter one of your points re: Chelsea not being in a position to complain about the alleged comments by ref Clattenburg due to Terry’s punishment and the reasons for it.

    I would argue that it gives them every right complain as they should expect an example of acceptable behaviour from officials unless of course the general arrogance which oozes from every football authority in a do as I say, not as I do kind of way is the impression the FA wishes to be given.

  • Sir Cecil, how do you know what I do in my spare time?

  • Jeff

    Anyone that said, chelsea should produce an evidence is an idiot cos that person should kwn that evry thg said by d officials whr n,t recorded.Nd all d officials ar behind clatenburg which refuses to say that he said smth. Officials ar killin english football jus to favour man.u, that is why england team can,t go far in tournements.why now d FA said they wil start recordin I think wht d fifa president is true.

  • Mike T

    The Poll thing is interesting as there were three players Cole, Lampard and Terry that all made the claims. The FA believed Poll not the players.
    On to the tour of the ground the bit missing is that Chelsea investigagetd and were satisfied with the explnation re what went on.
    As for Neil Warnock well he has made more comment about refs than perhaps the vast majority of managers
    We dont know if the allegations are true or indeed if they will be proved but if you penalise a player or a club for coming forward and making complaints (even if they arent proven or taken forwrad) in one stroke you will stop any who believe they have been wronged from making a complaint.Why would you bother so just let the abuse carry on!

    Which Spaniard? Its re Mikel a Nigerian
    Arsenal 13
    Cant accuse an innocent man? Think that one through. The FA can and do

  • Mahdain

    If im totally being honest i really think Clattenburg is a victim of all of this. Yes his performance was bad but could he have been THAT stupid to racially abuse a player with racism cases flying around? I dont think so.
    I really think he is collateral damage in all of this. Chelsea know they were mugged but are afraid of directly attacking PGMOL which would lead to them being targeted and hence decided to go after Clattenburg instead
    Or maybe he actually did what they claim(highly doubt it) in which case deserve full punishment

  • Paul "the Gooner"

    A very good article.Sir Cecil get a life.I think Mandy has covered most things very well.They(Chelsea) have previous on this.I too read Polls book.Chelsea acted in a disgraceful way.
    It has been reported that both Luiz and the other Brazilian who plays midfield(Sorry forgotten his name) reported it.Mikel never heard it.Also only one of them speaks English!.
    I hear also that Torres has also reported Clattenberg for calling him a STRIKER!

  • Andrei

    @Tony What is your suggestion on how Chelsea should have acted in the situation? Chelsea players claimed alleged abuses after the game. By the rules the club had obligation to report the incident(s) to the FA which they did. They also hired an external legal team to investigate. They dismissed one allegation and decided that there was “enough evidence” for a formal complaint about racial slur rendered against Mikel. What would be your preffered way of resolving it?

    @Mike T: Spaniard is probably Juan Mata. I’m wondering why racial slur is punishable offense but ethnic slur is not.

  • Mike T

    Paul The Gooner

    Interesting how you take Polls account as being gospel. For me its odd that Poll himself said
    These claims were as damaging as they were ridiculous but Brian Barwick (then FA chief executive) and the FA failed to stand up for me.
    The top people at the FA didnt support him and it was Chelsea that withdrew the complaint and a very small fine was handed down to Terry.Sounds more like a little more to it.
    In the current case it is reported by Chelsea that several players (note the word several) heard what was said to Mikel. There is a lot of guessing going on just as its being reported that the other officals didnt hear anything but does that mean nothing untoward was said?. Yes they were all party to a communications system but there are mute buttons and was it working 100%? I dont know but the possibilty it wasnt shouldnt be ignored .
    I agree that Clattenburg would be stupid making such comments but he was under intense pressure and in such situations humans dont always behave in a rational matter. and if you look at his personal history he has had some issues in the past so again its possible.

  • Mike T


    I feel I must respod to your mention about Reading. Chelsea did indeed make a compliant about what happened.

    An official Chelsea complaint led to an FA and Premier League review, which introduced new measures from 2007, including the requirement for every game to have an ambulance on standby for players and officials.

    Other regulations made it compulsory for clubs to provide two paramedic stretcher-bearers, with a club doctor and physiotherapists on the team benches, as well as a qualified “crowd doctor” on standby.

    So was he wrong to complain about the delay in getting Chec to hospital? Or indeed was he ever fined for his claims or indeed were they ever proven to be wrong? It is a matter of fact that it took 30 minutes to get Petr Chec from the ground and that no ambulence or proper facilities were on site.
    Indeed it is acknowledged if the changes hadnt been introduced Fabrice Muamba would in all possibilty not have survived.

  • FinnGooner

    I think this should be carefully investigate by outside group and if Clattenburg is found guilty then he should be suspended and fined and if allowed to referee again it would be with warning. If they find out that Chelsea made up whole thing Chelsea should be punished with automatic relegation next year (fines would be useless). They now need to start to show that racism or making untrue claims are not accepted.