Chelsea have attempted to draw a line under the latest race row to engulf the club after formally expressing "regrets" over their handling of the Mark Clattenburg affair.
The European champions admitted they should have "given more consideration" before making public allegations that the top-flight referee racially abused midfielder John Obi Mikel during their Barclays Premier League defeat to Manchester United on October 28.
Clattenburg was last week cleared of any wrongdoing after the Football Association decided he had no case to answer over Chelsea's complaint that he called the Blues' midfielder John Obi Mikel a "monkey", with police having already shelved a probe into the matter.
Chelsea's handling of the allegation and their refusal to apologise prompted a furious backlash against a club already tainted by the John Terry racism affair. That prompted chairman Bruce Buck to arrange a meeting on Monday at which he spoke with Clattenburg, the remaining 15 Select Group referees, their boss – Professional Game Match Officials general manager Mike Riley – and Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore.
A joint statement was issued yesterday between the three parties, which read: "Following the completion of the investigation by the FA into the case involving Chelsea FC and Mark Clattenburg, the Premier League and Chelsea FC requested, and PGMOL agreed, to meet in order to discuss the issues surrounding the reporting of the allegation. The Select Group appreciated the opportunity to speak to Bruce Buck personally. His willingness to engage and answer all the questions put to him was welcomed. There was a constructive and open discussion.
"The club regrets not having given more consideration before issuing a statement on the evening of Sunday, October 28. The club also regrets the subsequent impact the intense media scrutiny had on Mark Clattenburg and his family.
"The referees accept that, given Chelsea FC had received a good-faith claim from one of their employees, the club had an obligation under FA rules to report the allegation.
"There was recognition by all parties that the impartiality and integrity of refereeing in this country remains paramount. Chelsea FC made it clear they would welcome Mark Clattenburg back to Stamford Bridge in the future.
"It was a thoroughly professional meeting. All parties now believe it is time to draw a line under this incident, learn from it and move on for the good of all."