Clattenburg quits the Premier League
It is unusual for news of a referee’s imminent ‘transfer’ to make the headlines. That did happen this week, when the news broke of Mark Clattenburg’s decision to quit England’s Premier League in favour of leading refereeing in Saudi Arabia.
Many aspects of this strike me as bizarre. The timing for a start seems odd, as we sit mid-season, and with plenty of big games left that will surely need our best referees. Also there must be contractual commitments presumably in place between Clattenburg and the PGMOL until the end of the season. I might be wrong, but I suspect there may be some serious money involved…
Perhaps in the end it is down to timing, with the previous Head of Refereeing at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, Howard Webb, having resigned in the last couple of weeks. It may have been a case of ‘if you want the job, you have to come now’, which has forced a decision and resolution between all parties involved.
Whatever the ins and outs of this, it is not a good sign that our best referee can be tempted away from the Premier League at the age of 41.it is a sign though that our top referees are in demand, and are starting to command big money, if not yet in the league of the top players.
I just hope we don’t know see this happening more widely as lucrative offers from China and other emerging football nations come forward to tempt our match officials away.