Belfast Telegraph

Ferguson sympathy for Clattenburg

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson claims referee Mark Clattenburg was "pilloried" undeservedly at Chelsea last weekend.

Clattenburg was at the centre of a storm during a tempestuous Barclays Premier League clash between the two clubs at Stamford Bridge, which United won 3-2 after the Blues had two men sent off. Clattenburg was later subject of a complaint that he used "inappropriate language" towards Chelsea's John Obi Mikel by the London club.

Writing in his programme notes ahead of the game against Arsenal, Ferguson said: "I certainly felt every sympathy for Mark Clattenburg at Chelsea last Sunday. He was pilloried and didn't deserve it. In my mind the officials made two mistakes, one that went against us and one that did us a huge favour, and I don't hold either error against them!"

The second-half dismissal of Chelsea's Fernando Torres caused the most consternation after Clattenburg harshly awarded a second yellow card for diving. Chelsea's anger intensified after Javier Hernandez then struck the winner for United from an offside position.

Police and the Football Association launched formal investigations into the European champions' allegations over Clattenburg, something Press Association Sport understands the official strenuously denies.

Chelsea submitted a dossier of evidence to the FA containing signed witness statements from players, who allege Clattenburg used a term understood to have been interpreted as racist. The incident has even led to some referees considering boycotting Chelsea games, according to one former match official.

The United manager felt Torres could have been sent off in the first half for a bad challenge on Tom Cleverley.

Referring to Torres' eventual dismissal, Ferguson added: "Even if they had felt badly done to on that one, they might have taken the view that overall the referee had done them a favour by allowing Torres to stay on the field from the first incident."

Some Premier League referees are contemplating boycotting Chelsea games in the wake of the allegations made against Clattenburg, according to former official Clive Wilkes.

"I keep in touch with a lot of the lads and there is such a strength of feeling about what is happening to Mark," he told The Sun. "I know a few referees who are even talking about boycotting Chelsea games because of all this."


From Belfast Telegraph