Clattenburg decision expected next week
Mark Clattenburg will not discover the outcome of the Football Association's investigation into a complaint by Chelsea against the match official until next week, according to sources close to the investigation.
The timing of the decision means that Clattenburg could now miss refereeing a fourth weekend of matches even if the FA announces that no action will be taken.
Chelsea have alleged that Clattenburg used inappropriate language, understood to have been interpreted as racist, towards their midfielder John Obi Mikel during the west London club's 3-2 defeat by Manchester United on October 28. Clattenburg strenuously denies the allegations.
The Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO) announces the list of referees for the following weekend's matches on Monday and previously Clattenburg has opted out of officiating while the case is still going on.
The FA has interviewed several Chelsea players including Mikel, plus Clattenburg, the two assistant referees Michael McDonough and Simon Long and fourth official Michael Jones.
An independent QC is studying all the evidence in close detail before recommending a decision. The sensitivities of the case, heightened by the fact it comes so soon after Chelsea skipper John Terry's four-match ban for racist abuse, means the FA is being cautious and will ensure that it has left no stone unturned in its investigation.
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck gave a long interview this week defending the club's actions - something that it is understood to have caused disquiet at the PGMO. The organisation believes the club should not have gone public over the issue before the FA had reached its conclusions.
Clattenburg himself has been shocked after finding himself and his family targeted by paparazzi, even after the police announced on Tuesday that they were not pursuing a complaint against him lodged by the Society of Black Lawyers (SBL).
After the police's announcement, the SBL's chairman Peter Herbert branded the FA as "institutionally racist" but Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo came to the governing body's defence.
He said: "I don't believe this. The FA is conducting its investigation and doing it properly. We haven't done so. It's in the hands of the FA, and we believe the FA is the right institution to conduct the investigation. The FA is the best institution to deal with it. They are doing that."