• Premier League

Referee conversations will now be recorded

ESPN staff
November 22, 2012

Referees chief Mike Riley has confirmed Premier League plans to record all match officials' conversations during games in the wake of the Mark Clattenburg incident.

On Thursday, 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. Clattenburg could return to refereeing next week.

The episode has led to plans for private recordings of conversations between officials. 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 do not appear set to offer Clattenburg an apology despite criticism from the official and Professional Referees' Union spokesman Alan Leighton over their decision to go public with their complaint.

"We are pleased that the FA recognise the claim lodged by Ramires was done in good faith," said Chelsea spokesman Steve Adkins. "They also recognise that Chelsea FC did what was expected on that occasion. We now hope everyone returns to playing football and refereeing without prejudice. We will not be adding to our statement."

Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez refused to comment on the incident, as he sidestepped questions at his first press briefing on Thursday.

"I just arrived, so I haven't glad much time to think about all other issues," stated Benitez. "The club have put out a statement and that is enough. I just have one training session and I want to concentrate on football issues if I can."

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