Mark Clattenburg quits Premier League for Saudi Arabiaby William Odinga 16/02/2017 17:55:00 0 comments 1 Views
By Craig Hope for the Daily Mail
Published: 08:39 EST, 16 February 2017 | Updated: 17:55 EST, 16 February 2017
Mark Clattenburg has given up on his dream of refereeing the World Cup Final after becoming disillusioned with life in the Premier League — and tempted by the riches of the Middle East.
He was already on UEFA’s pre-selected list for Russia 2018 and it is thought he was a strong favourite to land the final, especially after taking charge of last year’s Champions League and Euro 2016 finals.
The County Durham-born official could yet use the influence of his friend Pierluigi Collina — the former Italian referee who holds positions with both UEFA and FIFA — to safeguard his involvement next summer, but that looks unlikely.
Mark Clattenburg will leave the Premier League and move to Saudi Arabia
2004: Division Three play-off final
2007: FA Youth Cup final
2012: Football League Cup Final
2012: Olympics men's final
2013: FA Community Shield
2014: UEFA Super Cup
2016: FA Cup Final
2016: UEFA Champions League final
2016: European Championships final
Sources say the move to Saudi Arabia offers financial security — his wages will rocket from his current £100,000 a year — and provides an escape route from the politics of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited.
Clattenburg decided before Christmas that he wanted to go and talk was soon rife that he was set to quit. But the timing of his appointment as Saudi Arabia’s head of referees has stunned colleagues, most of whom hold the 41-year-old in high regard.
His departure robs the Premier League of its best referee just when the standard of officiating is again being questioned and it is possible he will try to persuade others to follow him.
He is said to have become frustrated at the scrutiny referees come under in English football
The referee's stock rose considerably in 2016 as he took charge of the Champions League final
CLATTENBURG'S FINAL ACT IN ENGLAND
Hull have been fined £20,000 after Saturday's defeat to Arsenal - because their players protested against Clattenburg's decision.
Tigers players surrounded the referee after Arsenal full-back Kieran Gibbs was only booked for fouling Lazar Markovic when the Hull winger was clear on goal.
And that response, in Clattenburg's last game, has seen them admit a charge of failing to control their players.
The PGMOL tried to sound positive, saying: ‘This is an exciting opportunity for Mark as well as further underlining what high esteem English match officials are held throughout the world.
‘Mark has been a great asset to the English game and hopefully an inspiration to those who want to get into refereeing at the grass roots of the game.’
Clattenburg, though, felt as if the governing body did not give him the respect he deserved and has long been on a collision course with the hierarchy. He was cleared of racially abusing Chelsea’s Jon Obi Mikel in 2012 but felt a lack of support from the PGMOL.
He also fell out with them over his decision to drive from a game in London to an Ed Sheeran concert in Newcastle in 2014.
His last match in England was Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Hull at the Emirates Stadium last Saturday, after which he apologised to visiting players for failing to spot Alexis Sanchez’s handball goal.
He then took charge of the final of Euro 2016, as Portugal beat France in Paris to lift the trophy
Clattenburg has had tattoos on his arms to commemorate his major finals
The official poses with his tattoo artist after getting his Champions League artwork done
REFEREES ABROAD - ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW...
We're used to footballers travelling around the world to find the club that suits them - and the financial deal that suits them.
But referees don't tend to move. So why has Clattenburg left?
Well, it's not a completely new idea. The Referee hinted that he could be on the move at the end of last year.
'Money has never been a driver as a referee,' he said at the time. 'It's about the drive of doing something different, maybe helping the recruitment.'
So he won't be getting any more money?
Well, let's face it, he'll probably get quite the pay rise. Premier League referees are paid around £65,000 per year, plus a match fee of just over £1,000 for every game they do.
Most will end up with a salary of just over £100,000 - a good amount, but less than half of what top players earn in a week.
Moving to cash-rich Saudi Arabia is likely to see a big boost to those wages, although full details are not yet known.
Why move now?
Moving in the middle of the season might be unorthodox, but Clattenburg has grown tired of the scrutiny he is under in England.
Last year he reached the pinacle of the game, refereeing the FA Cup final, the Champions League final, and the Euro 2016 final. He may feel he is now bowing out at the top of his game.
He has not, however, been involved at a World Cup, with Howard Webb representing England in 2010 and 2014. He was on the pre-selection list for UEFA, but the move to Saudi Arabia will jeopardise that.
Is this the first move of its kind?
Details around the move are still a bit sketchy. Clattenburg will be head of referees, so its unclear how much actual officiating he will do.
In fact, that is a position that Howard Webb, another senior English referee, has also held in the past, so there is a precedent if the role is purely administrative.