North-East ref Clattenburg at centre of Saints complaint - report

The Northern Echo: Mark Clattenburg Mark Clattenburg

CONTROVERSY surrounding North-East referee Mark Clattenburg and Adam Lallana must not affect Southampton's FA Cup clash with Burnley, according to assistant manager Jesus Perez.

Press Association Sport understands Southampton lodged a complaint with Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) in the wake of the 2-1 defeat at Everton on December 29.

Southampton are understood to have claimed Consett referee Clattenburg verbally abused England midfielder Lallana.

Assistant manager Perez has vowed Saints will not let the developing situation affect their preparations for hosting high-flying Sky Bet Championship side Burnley at St Marys Stadium on Saturday.

"Our way always is when the game is over, its time to think about the next game," said Perez.

"So our full focus is to prepare well for the next game, then to ensure were in best condition for the next match.

"That's our style since we came to England.

"When you are in this business you have to be aware everything is possible.

"We're in the best league, the best environment, in terms of business and media, so we have to respect everything because everyone is proud of this business.

"So it's not difficult for us: we focus and we put our players away from the problems and just think about the football."

Burnley sit second in the Championship standings, and will have in-form ex-Southampton academy striker Danny Ings on show on the south coast in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.

Refusing to go into detail on Saints complaint to PGMOL, headed up by Mike Riley, Perez said he expects the club to find out more information in the next few days.

"I won't talk about this situation, I prefer to stay away from this and just focus on the game on Saturday," he said.

"This type of situation doesn't help us in this moment, for this game, it's away, and well see in the next couple of days what's happening with this.

"I read it this morning; when you are in the games sometimes you can see or hear something, but history has led me to stay away from these things."

Chelsea accused Clattenburg of racially abusing midfielder John Mikel Obi last season in a hot-tempered Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

It took an FA inquiry to rule there was no case to answer and six months later Clattenburg was back officiating Chelsea once again.

Clattenburg is scheduled to referee Arsenal's Emirates Stadium FA Cup clash with Tottenham on Saturday evening.

And Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said he hopes to see the under-fire official taking charge, admitting it would be a bad decision for Clattenburg to be withdrawn.

Wenger said: "I will be disappointed if Mark Clattenbury is not the referee tomorrow because as long as youre not judged guilty, you're innocent.

"Nobody has proven yet that he is guilty of what he is accused of. It would be a very bad decision.

"I personally have no problem with Mark Clattenburg refereeing the game tomorrow."

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