LONDON (AP) — Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson came to the defense of Mark Clattenburg on Friday, saying he doesn't believe the referee directed an insult at Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel during a Premier League match.
The police and the English Football Association have already launched investigations into Clattenburg's alleged use of "inappropriate language" toward the Nigeria international during Chelsea's 3-2 loss to United on Sunday.
On Wednesday, Chelsea sent a file of evidence to the FA, including statements from players and staff members who they claim witnessed Mikel being abused by Clattenburg.
The referee has yet to publicly respond to the allegations after being reported to have used to the word "monkey."
"I don't believe Mark Clattenburg would make any comments like that. I refuse to believe it," Ferguson said. "I think it is unthinkable in the modern climate. I just don't believe it, simple as that. There is no way a referee would stoop to that. I am convinced of that."
Ferguson later claimed on United's TV channel that Clattenburg's "career is teetering on the brink."
"The stigma unattached to it is unfair unless they (Chelsea) have proof he actually said that — which I don't believe," Ferguson said.
Backing Clattenburg further, Ferguson added: "The problem now is ... how Chelsea can get themselves out of this situation because it's pretty serious."
The Scotsman, who has been in charge at United since 1986, said in the last 15 years no player had complained to him about abuse from a referee.
"I think in the modern game, the way we see the game today rather than how it was 25 years ago, it has completely changed," Ferguson said. "I played myself and I know the banter that went on between referees and players 25 years ago is different from today."
Ferguson's defense of Clattenburg comes a day after Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed Chelsea made the allegations "with little proof."