Belfast Telegraph

Warnock focusing on Black Cats

Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock refused to be drawn further on the controversy surrounding referee Mark Clattenburg's disciplinary sanction from the Football Association as he focused on Monday night's clash against Sunderland.

Clattenburg has been dropped for this weekend's Barclays Premier League fixtures after breaking protocol following the match between West Brom and Palace so he could get back to Newcastle to watch Ed Sheeran perform at the Metro Radio Arena.

The rules of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) state officials must travel to and from the ground together to protect their integrity and security.

It has also emerged that Clattenburg broke another rule by speaking to Eagles boss Warnock on the phone after the 2-2 draw at The Hawthorns. The PGMOL insists a referee should only be allowed to speak to a manager 30 minutes after the game and that conversation must take place in front of his assistants.

Warnock was unhappy at a challenge by West Brom's Craig Dawson on Julian Speroni which led to the injured goalkeeper being substituted.

Although the Palace boss himself is not expected to face any disciplinary action, Warnock wanted to draw a line under the incident as he focused attention on Monday night's visit of Sunderland.

"I don't really want to talk about it if I am honest, because it might get someone in trouble, and I think enough has been speculated on, but I did not do anything wrong," Warnock said when asked for his thoughts at Saturday's pre-match press conference.

"I don't want to talk about him or any referees to be honest, I talk about them enough. People get fed up of me talking about referees, so let me talk about my team and the game, Sunderland is one to look forward to really."

Asked whether it was he who had called Clattenburg or the other way round, Warnock replied: "Never you mind. One or two people have said it was, one or two people have said it wasn't but whatever will be, will be."

Palace's 2-2 draw against the Baggies, where they were denied victory by a stoppage-time penalty, leaves them in 16th place, but just a point above the relegation zone.

Sunderland have lost their last two matches, thumped 8-0 at Southampton in the last away match.

Warnock, though, warned against complacency as the Eagles look for a first win in three matches.

"You don't kid yourself, results like Sunderland had don't happen very often," he said.

"Every game in this league is difficult to get maximum points which is why it was so disappointing last week not to get it."

He added: "Every team has got a chance in every game, as we saw in midweek with Newcastle's fantastic (Capital One Cup) win at Man City.

"It is the closest Premier League for many years, apart from the top two and now you are saying 'is it the top two or the top one?'"

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