LONDON - Southampton have launched an angry attack on refereeing chiefs for refusing to take action against Mark Clattenburg after he was accused of verbally abusing England midfielder Adam Lallana.
The Southampton hierarchy are considering an appeal to the Football Association over Friday's ruling by the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) that Clattenburg, a leading Premier League referee, has no case to answer for his conduct in Everton's 2-1 win over Saints on December 2.
Clattenburg was accused of "abusing and insulting" Southampton captain Lallana after he had turned down late penalty appeals for handball at Goodison Park.
Southampton claimed Clattenburg told Lallana: "You are very different now, since you've played for England — you never used to be like this."
Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino publicly criticised Clattenburg's performance after the match.
He complained that Southampton should have been awarded two penalties — including the one where Lallana's cross hit Antolin Alcaraz's hand, leading to Clattenburg's confrontation with the England international.
Southampton wrote to referees' governing body chief Mike Riley on New Year's Eve, to formalise their complaint against Clattenburg, but after a review the PGMOL have ruled there is no case to answer.
Now Southampton have pledged not to let the matter lie.
A club spokesman said: "An official insulting any player, no matter his intentions, is clearly not acceptable behaviour. For this reason we do not accept the verdict of the PGMOL in relation to this case, and do not consider the matter to be over."
Clattenburg is to officiate at Saturday's FA Cup third round clash between Arsenal and Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium.
Clattenburg is no stranger to controversy; Chelsea accused him of racially abusing Nigeria midfielder John Obi Mikel last season during a Premier League clash with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
An FA inquiry ruled there was no case to answer.
Meanwhile, Southampton striker Dani Osvaldo was fined and suspended for three matches on Friday for his part in a touchline brawl during an ill-tempered match at Newcastle.