Valiants bring back Chilvers

A draw in their final Europa League game will be enough for
Tottenham to progress after they drew 0-0 with Lazio.

Spurs made hard work of their Group J clash and indeed they had
the brilliance of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to thank for keeping the
Italians at bay.

Libor Kozak, making a rare start, missed a hatful of chances for
the hosts, but Lloris was equally important in keeping Lazio at
bay.

Their draw against the Rome-based club did not come without
controversy, however, as Lazio fans chanted “Juden Tottenham” at
the away fans in an apparent anti-Semitic jibe at the end of a
troubled 24 hours for the visiting fans.

Lazio, and their icon Paul Gascoigne – who was guest of honour
in the Italian capital – would have hoped for the football to do
the talking, but the apparent anti-Semitic chanting will disappoint
UEFA, who fined the club for monkey-chanting during the reverse
fixture in September.

Gascoigne’s appearance on the pitch had rekindled memories of a
glorious era for Lazio and Spurs, but the tie proved to be anything
but a classic.

Libor Kozak, making a rare start, missed a hatful of chances for
the hosts, but Lloris was equally important in keeping Lazio at
bay.

The Frenchman, chosen ahead of Brad Friedel, denied Kozak twice
in the first half and was a steady and assuring presence
throughout.

Tottenham rarely threatened – although Gareth Bale’s early
strike should not have been ruled out for offside.

But Panathinaikos’ victory over Maribor means Tottenham only
have to draw their final game at home to the Greeks next month to
qualify.

The match official also implicitly criticised Chelsea for going
public with the complaint before the Football Association had even
launched a formal investigation.

Clattenburg, 37, found out on Thursday he will face no action
from the FA over a complaint by Chelsea that he said “shut up you
monkey” to their midfielder John Obi Mikel last month.

The FA decided there was “no case to answer” and Chelsea have
accepted the decision, but the Blues issued no apology and pointed
out that the FA accepted the complaint by Mikel’s team-mate
Ramires, though erroneous, was “made in good faith”.

Clattenburg spoke of his relief and said the last few weeks,
during which he has taken no part in refereeing matches, had been
“the most stressful of his life”.

He said: “To know you were innocent of something but that there
was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly
frightening.

“Racism has no place in football and this experience should not
discourage those to speak out if they genuinely believe they are a
victim of abuse.

“However, there are processes that should be adhered to in order
that any investigation can be carried out in a manner that is fair
for all parties involved.

“I know first-hand the ramifications of allegations of this
nature being placed into the public domain ahead of a formal
process and investigation. I hope no referee has to go through this
in the future.

“I am looking forward to putting this behind me and
concentrating on refereeing in the Premier League and other
competitions.”

Clattenburg also paid tribute to the support from his colleagues
and family and the referees’ trade union Prospect, who have called
for Chelsea to apologise and compensate the official.

He added: “The messages of encouragement from those inside and
outside of the game have helped me through the most stressful time
of my professional life.”

Mikel was himself charged by the FA today for using threatening
words or behaviour – an alleged breach of FA Rule E3 – after going
into the referees’ changing room after the match in question,
Chelsea’s 3-2 defeat by Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on
October 28.

Chelsea insisted that they had a duty to report the claim
against Clattenburg, but that Mikel would not deny the charge
against him.

A club statement read: “The FA states Chelsea took the correct
action following the Manchester United match and encourages all
players who believe they have been either subject, or witness to
discriminatory abuse, to report the matter immediately to the match
officials on the day, and in turn to the FA.

“The club also notes the charge brought against John Mikel Obi.
While the player does not deny the charge, he will request a
personal hearing to explain the mitigating circumstances.

“With regards to the Mark Clattenburg decision, the club accepts
the case is now concluded and notes the FA states the allegation
was made in good faith.”

The FA’s decision came after all the evidence was considered by
independent QC David Waters, who ruled Ramires’ claim was not
supported by any other evidence and disputed by the other match
officials.

An FA statement added: “Moreover it was contradicted by other
witnesses and does not cross the evidential threshold required to
bring a charge against Mark Clattenburg.

“Having considered Counsel’s opinion, and in view of all the
circumstances of the case, the FA does not believe that there is a
case for Mr Clattenburg to answer.”

The episode has caused the Premier League to seek to record all
match officials’ conversations during games in the future.

Referees chief Mike 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.”

The FA’s decision came an hour before Chelsea’s new interim
manager Rafael Benitez gave his first press conference at the club,
with the former Liverpool boss insisting he had “just arrived and I
want to concentrate on football issues”.

The 20-year-old will go straight into the Alex squad for the
clash with Crawley at the weekend.

The attacker has scored seven times in eight starts for the
Magpies’ Under-21 side this season and is excited by the challenge
awaiting him at Gresty Road.

“I was buzzing when I found out I was going to Crewe,” he told
Toon’s official website.

“I hope to play every game and just learn what proper football
is because it’s going to be a lot different to reserve football. It
means more and I’ll be playing with and against experienced players
now.

“So I’m going to learn a lot, and hopefully come back a better
player.”

Chilvers had a loan spell at Vale Park last season when he was
on the books at Notts County, making 12 appearances for the Burslem
outfit.

Vale were unable to make a move for the 31-year-old when he was
released by the Magpies as they were in administration.

Manager Micky Adams told the club’s official website: “After a
frustrating spell, we are now in the position where we can bring in
new players and I thank the new owners for allowing us to act
swiftly to do that.

“We know from working with Liam previously that he will add a
calm and experienced head to the defence, having played for the
majority of his career in a higher division.

“He also knows the club and our aspirations and I, along with
the rest of the staff and players, are looking forward to working
with him until the new year.”

Centre-half Chilvers will stay with the Valiants until January
5, 2013 and will go straight into the squad for this weekend’s
League Two fixture away at Aldershot.