Arsène Wenger yesterday warned Chelsea that they should have tried to resolve the escalating Mark Clattenburg affair in private before taking their allegations of racism to the Football Association.
At his weekly press conference, the Arsenal manager responded to questions about the race row that has unfolded over the last week by suggesting that Chelsea had advanced quickly to a stage where there was now an FA and Metropolitan police investigation into Clattenburg with "little proof".
His comments came as the FA's governance department prepares to get into the serious work of deciding whether there is sufficient evidence to produce a charge against Clattenburg. The police are making their own inquiries in partnership with the governing body.
The police have also been called in by Chelsea to consider photographs taken during Wednesday's 5-4 League Cup win over Manchester United in which a home fan in Stamford Bridge's Matthew Harding Stand appears to be making monkey gestures at Danny Welbeck.
Wenger said yesterday that it was his policy to try to resolve disputes with a referee in the aftermath of the game. He said: "I prefer, when I didn't behave well, to have an explanation [discussion] with the referee at the end of the game, or on another day, rather than going public with little proof. I'm not a great believer in making these stories public.
"My deep feeling is that I was not always behaving very well in this situation, because they are very heated situations. But I am a deep supporter of doing that internally."
"For example, the last two nights [in the League Cup] were great adverts for football and that is absolutely fantastic. For the rest, I believe that one of the great things in sport is that when the battle is on, especially in England, you can sort out the problems you have internally.
"If it becomes a sport to make the lawyers rich then I am not a fan of it. One of the great things in sport as well is tolerance, forgiveness and explanation internally, and I think it should stay like that. It can happen that a referee doesn't behave well, I do not say they are angels, but it is always better to sort it out in the room."
His remarks came the day after Chelsea filed an official complaint that Clattenburg used "inappropriate language" – in this case a racist slur – towards John Obi Mikel during the Premier League game against United on Sunday. The FA governance department, under the leadership of Darren Bailey, is now in a position to gather evidence from Mikel and other Chelsea players.
Chelsea are hopeful of tracking down the supporter who made the gesture towards Welbeck – and was caught by a photographer – via the stadium's CCTV and their own records of ticket sales for the part of the stand he was sitting in. The club operates a tiered membership policy and Wednesday's game was not on general sale to the public so the club are confident of finding out, at the very least, to whom the offending fan's ticket was sold.
Chelsea are also studying footage from within the stadium to try to identify the Manchester United supporter who ran on to the pitch and managed to get back into the stand before the stewards could catch him. They are also investigating the use of smoke flares by the United fans.