Alex loan has Inman buzzing

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


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


The Frenchman, chosen ahead of Brad Friedel, denied Kozak twice

in the first half and was a steady and assuring presence


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


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


“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


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


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


“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


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