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Winter: Clattenburg could face axe

Former Premier League referee Jeff Winter does not anticipate that Mark Clattenburg will officiate a match again if it is proven that he racially abused a Chelsea player in Sunday's game at Stamford Bridge.

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Chelsea have lodged an official complaint over alleged "inappropriate language" used by Clattenburg towards two of their players during their 3-2 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.

The Football Association has released a statement, saying "The FA has begun an investigation relating to allegations made following Sunday's fixture at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Manchester United (Sunday 28 October 2012)," while the Professional Game Match Officials has stated that it is treating the complaint "with the utmost seriousness".

It is reported in The Guardian that Chelsea officials briefed journalists that one part of the allegation concerns language of a racist nature, and Winter feels Clattenburg's future in the game will be untenable if he is found guilty of such an offence.

Winter, who refereed for over 25 years, told Radio 5 Live: "If a match official has used racial insults or language to a player then he's for the high jump. He won't be getting a four-match or an eight-match ban, it'll probably be the end of his career, but that is if indeed he did say anything."

He added: "I feel it very unlikely that Mark Clattenburg would be allowed to referee until it's dealt with so we certainly don't want this going on for weeks and months."

Winter said he found it "ironic" that a referee has been accused of using inappropriate language given that officials are subjected to abuse from players and fans at almost every match.

He said: "Initially it is insulting words and I must admit I smiled at that because we watch football matches every week of the year hearing players use insulting words to referees and then somebody takes umbrage when somebody allegedly says something back. But I just hope this can be cleared.

"It's slightly ironic that players dish it out left, right and centre and then if, and there is a massive if, if something has been said back - and we're not talking about racial here, we're talking about like for like - then I don't think anybody's got a right to complain.

"I'm not saying referees should do it, but there seems to be one law for one set of people and one law for another, but this inference that racial language has been used is very, very serious."

The trade union Prospect, of which the PGMO is a member, said in a statement: "Prospect is committed to helping to eradicate racism in football and in society generally.

"In the context of that commitment, Prospect is offering full support to Mark Clattenburg in relation to the allegations made against him.

"It is now important that the allegations are fully investigated through the proper process as quickly as possible.

"We will be making no further comment at this stage."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report