Ferguson thinks Clattenburg is innocent
Sir Alex Ferguson has poured scorn on Chelsea's claim Mark Clattenburg used "inappropriate language" towards John Obi Mikel, declaring: "I don't believe it."
But Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo insisted the allegation "should be treated seriously, no matter what", adding of Manchester United manager Ferguson: "He likes to talk about other clubs."
Ferguson has finally had his say on the latest race row to rock football, and he did not pull his punches, insisting there was "no way" referee Clattenburg would have abused Chelsea midfielder Mikel during United's stormy Barclays Premier League win at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Police and the Football Association launched formal investigations into the European champions' allegations Clattenburg used "inappropriate language" towards Mikel, something Press Association Sport understands the official strenuously denies.
Chelsea submitted a dossier of evidence to the FA containing signed witness statements from players, who allege Clattenburg used a term understood to have been interpreted as racist.
But Ferguson said: "I don't believe Mark Clattenburg would make any comments like that. I refuse to believe it. 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."
Reacting to Ferguson's claims, Chelsea boss Di Matteo said: "He likes to talk about other clubs. We tend not to, so I'll leave it up to him. It doesn't really affect me too much to be honest."
Meanwhile, QPR boss Mark Hughes has warned of the perils of allowing the Clattenburg furore to drag on in the same way as the John Terry scandal.
Hughes walked into one of the biggest race rows ever to hit football when he was appointed Rangers boss in January, two-and-a-half months after Terry abused fellow defender Anton Ferdinand at Loftus Road. Little did he know Terry would not be found guilty by the Football Association for another eight-and-a-half months.
Hughes said: "It's difficult when the authorities get involved, as we found in the case of Anton and John Terry. It ended up going on for far too long in my opinion. The situation with Mark Clattenburg, the authorities seem to have got involved as well and you don't want it to drag on. You would like these things to be addressed very very quickly so people can be allowed to move on, if possible."