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Thursday, Dec 18th

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Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay could be sacked as racism controversy threatens to go against the club

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It seems English football just cannot kick racism out, with the recent Mark Clattenburg controversy threatening to reach boiling point.

The reputed referee’s career is certainly over if the allegations are proved correct, and if not, the onus is on Chelsea to remove the people responsible for the fiasco. However, the matter is fast going out of hand for Chelsea, with the club being forced to drop claims that the Englishman had used abusive language against Spanish star Juan Mata after an investigation by an external team, due to almost no evidence supporting the club. The allegations came after Chelsea's 3-2 defeat against Manchester United, in which the Londoners had two men sent off. The Sun reports that Stamford Bridge chief executive Ron Gourlay could be the man to face the axe as Chelsea’s claims seems to be fast fading away due to lack of proof.

The second allegation was that Clattenburg had racially abused Chelsea players Ramires and John Obi Mikel. However, the questionable English of Ramires, and the fact that Mikel did not hear the comments himself, has put a huge question mark over whether the allegations are just a consequence of the fact that Chelsea lost the game against their bitter rivals, although the Chelsea management has vehemently denied the same. Clattenburg's assistant referees and the fourth official have also not supported Chelsea's version of the story, despite having been miked up and party to all conversations that the referee has.

Managers like Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson have condemned Chelsea for the public allegations, with Wenger saying that as Chelsea have "little proof", they should have dealt with the problem internally. "I have an explanation with the referee at the end of the game or another day, rather than going public with little proof. I'm not in favour of making these things public," he said. Sir Alex also backed Clattenburg, saying in his pre-match conference before the Arsenal game, "I don't believe Mark Clattenburg would make any comments like that. I've never had a player come to me in the last 15 years and say a referee swore in a game - ever."

Whatever happens, the sad part is that English football's reputation has been done no good by this incident, and that somebody is sure to pay for this, whether it is the referee, or someone at Chelsea if Clattenburg is absolved of blame.