A senior source within British football has admitted that the decision to drop charges against three fans for using the word “Yid” has undermined authorities’ efforts to clamp down on it.

The revelation comes after Tottenham Hotspur Football Club issued a statement saying that it had “asked police for clarification of the situation”.

Gary Whybrow, 31, Sam Parsons, 24, and Peter Ditchman, 52, had all been hauled before magistrates after allegedly using the language at Tottenham Hotspur matches last autumn.

But last Friday, the Crown Prosecution Service said the words could not legally be counted as “threatening, abusive or insulting” in the circumstances.

Baljit Ubhey, from the CPS, said: “We have conducted a senior level review of this case and concluded that… there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, and that the cases should be discontinued.”

As part of the review, Ubhey said, the context of the use of the words was considered.

“Although the same words used in other contexts could in theory satisfy the criteria for ‘threatening, abusive or insulting,’ it is unlikely that a court would find they were in the context of the three particular cases in question.”

The CPS said the decision had no bearing on any other cases, but a senior source within British football’s hierarchy said that it had “undermined” efforts to deal with the widespread use of the word.

“It hasn’t changed the stance, but does it undermine efforts? Clearly yes,” he said.

The trio were accused of a public order offence for using the word. Whybrow and Parsons were charged after going to Tottenham’s Europa League match against FC Sheriff on 7 November, while Ditchman allegedly used the language at the Tottenham game against West Ham on 6 October.

Police had previously warned football fans not to use the word, which is used to refer to Tottenham fans in football chants, referencing the club’s strong Jewish following.

In an act of defiance, some fans started using the word ‘Yid’ themselves, and chants of ‘Yids’, ‘Yid Army’ and ‘Yiddos’ are regularly sung in the home stands at White Hart Lane.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he did not think Tottenham fans should be charged for using the word, because it was not “motivated by hate”.