No apology, just an admission that they were wrong. Mark Clattenburg has been cleared of all racist charges, and is free to move on with his refereeing career in the Premier League and the international stage. Chelsea? No apology for almost ruining the career and life of a man based on sketchy evidence. Not like they really had a choice.

The police made nothing of it, and so did the FA. The only thing to hold Chelsea’s case against the referee were his dodgy decisions in the 2-3 loss to Manchester United (where their current troubles began) and their players’ claims Clattenburg used racial slurs against John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata in the match.

But while Chelsea were so quick on the trigger to point the finger at Clattenburg, mere hours after the match, the evidence started falling apart around them. Mikel and Mata themselves never heard him say anything about them. It was David Luiz, then it wasn’t. It was Ramires, who isn’t the most fluent of English speakers, especially considering Clattenburg’s heavy Geordie accent, which is extremely difficult to understand for a Brazilian player who wasn’t that close to the incident to begin with.

Still, Chelsea had no choice. They couldn’t ignore such an accusation by one of their players. They also can’t admit their own mistake an issue an apology to Clattenburg, in fear of alienating Ramires.

The club regrets not having given more consideration before issuing a statement on Sunday October 28. The club also regrets the subsequent impact the intense media scrutiny had on Mark Clattenburg and his family. The referees accept that, given Chelsea FC had received a good faith claim from one of their employees, the club had an obligation under FA rules to report the allegation. There was recognition by all parties that the impartiality and integrity of refereeing in this country remains paramount. Chelsea FC made it clear they would welcome Mark Clattenburg back to Stamford Bridge in the future and PGMOL would have no issue in appointing him to a Chelsea FC match.

Is this the end of it? Probably, or until his next visit to Stamford Bridge; maybe in his next Chelsea match. Can you trust him to be completely impartial and fair when refereeing against a club that wasn’t too far from completely tarnishing his name and destroying his professional reputation? Referees, we keep getting told, are only human. That’s why they make so many mistakes. That’s why we should forgive them.

If Mark Clattenburg is as human as the next fella, there’s no way he can be on the same pitch as Chelsea players, not to mention seeing Ramires and Mikel, and not feel an urge to give calls the other way. Hey, he didn’t have that kind of baggage with him and he turned every call in favor of United on that evening. What’s going to stop him from doing it another time, this time with an actual revenge clause to his decisions?

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