Chelsea have expressed "regrets" over their handling of the complaint of racist abuse against Mark Clattenburg.
The European champions issued a joint statement with referees body Professional Game Match Officials Limited and the Premier League in which they admitted they should have "given more consideration" before making their allegation public.
The Football Association last week decided to take no disciplinary action against Clattenburg following an investigation into Chelsea's allegation he used "inappropriate language" against midfielder John Obi Mikel, while the police also shelved a probe into the matter.
The statement followed a meeting on Monday between the three parties involved and included Clattenburg, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, the remaining 15 Select Group referees, PGMOL general manager Mike Riley and Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore.
It read: "The club regrets not having given more consideration before issuing a statement on the evening of Sunday 28th October. 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.
"Chelsea FC made it clear they would welcome Mark Clattenburg back to Stamford Bridge in the future and PGMOL would have no issue in appointing him to a Chelsea FC match going forward."
The 37-year-old returns to front-line refereeing during Southampton's match with Norwich on Wednesday for the first time since October's explosive Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United.
Referees' union Prospect, who had led calls for Chelsea to apologise to Clattenburg and pay some form of compensation, dropped the latter demand on Tuesday night. National secretary Alan Leighton said the use of the word "regrets" in the joint statement were tantamount to and accepted by Clattenburg and the Select Group as an apology.
"This was an important move forward in confirming Chelsea's recognition of Mark's integrity and impartiality," he said in a statement. Leighton said the referees "welcomed the opportunity to express their concerns about the way that Mark had been treated".
He added: "In a thoroughly professional manner, they explained what the impact had been in real terms and that there could be no repetition of the events."
- Sports & Recreation
- Mark Clattenburg