ONE of my favourite topics in football is referees, but I find the Chelsea allegations against Mark Clattenburg just incredible.
It is very difficult to be too critical when the situation is still unfolding and we are waiting to find out what was actually said and what the final judgement might be.
But for players to ever criticise a referee for inappropriate language, with all that goes on during match, just leaves me flabbergasted.
If Sky were able to do a lip-read and put together some text indicating what players say around officials, then you wouldn’t be able to print it.
I know from being out there in the middle that the content of that text would be shameful.
As I’ve said, we still don’t know what will come out of this case and, with a racial element, it’s only right that there will be an investigation.
But from my point of view, I find it sad that a referee is being subjected to this.
Cynics might say Chelsea are just hitting out because Clattenburg gave some decisions against them that they didn’t like, whereas I would say I can understand if there has been a misunderstanding about what was said on the pitch.
Not only do you have players involved whose first language is not English, but you have a referee with a North-East accent, which is not always the easiest to understand in any case.
I would also say it’s pretty much impossible in the modern-day game for officials to get any more decisions right than they do, especially when some players seem to go to any lengths to try and gain an advantage.
It is significant that Clattenburg’s assistants say they heard nothing untoward, and it also seems significant that if this happened when John Obi Mikel was booked in the last 15 minutes of the match, as has been reported by people who are close to the Stamford Bridge club, then his reaction indicated nothing of this nature had taken place.
If something offensive had been said, you would have expected him to be angry and upset, but there was none of it.
So I have to say I have every sympathy with Clattenburg at this stage.
I’M delighted the owner and trainer have taken the decision to retire Kauto Star.
He is one of the greatest National Hunt horses we will ever see and deserves to enjoy the rest of his years relaxing in a paddock somewhere.
I saw him at Cheltenham a number of times and that’s the thing with these great chasers, they are able to produce their best on the biggest stage.
Cheltenham and Kempton were the stages for Kauto Star, and he will never be forgotten because of it.
He will go down in history as a phenomenal horse who, no matter who came along to challenge, was always giving his best and, more often than not, coming out on top.
The public loved him, because he would always find that bit extra.
He suffered an injury in schooling before the last Gold Cup and was pulled up in the race. I’m glad they’ve not decided to go on any further, because it would be sad if something similar happened again.