Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg made the decision to quit mid-season for a lucrative deal with the Saudi Arabia Football Federation after years of frustration and feuds with the major refereeing authorities in English football.
Clattenburg has negotiated a break with the English referees’ body, Professional Game Match Officials Limited, which allows him to leave immediately, even though his departure will leave the select group without the man regarded as their best referee, albeit a man who has divided opinion.
Clattenburg, 41, had differences with PGMOL general manager Mike Riley, especially over the Ref360 assessment system which has proved so unpopular with the country’s leading referees. However, it was with the Football Association, and its referees’ chairman, David Elleray, with whom there was the most tension.
It is understood that Elleray did not want Clattenburg to referee the 2014 Super Cup final between Real Madrid and Sevilla in Cardiff, and told Uefa so, but was overruled by Pierluigi Collina, the former Italian referee who is Uefa’s chief refereeing officer.المؤتمر الصحفي لسعادة رئيس #الاتحاد_السعودي_لكرة_القدم الأستاذ عادل بن محمد عزت https://t.co/mISNmXEsVI— الاتحاد السعودي (@saudiFF) February 16, 2017
It is the case that Elleray wanted Martin Atkinson to be England’s referee representative at Euro 2016. In the end a compromise was reached and both Atkinson and Clattenburg officiated at the tournament.
However, the FA denies that Elleray did not want Clattenburg allocated to the Super Cup final in 2014.
Elleray is the FA official who handles international refereeing appointments. Collina has regarded Clattenburg as the best of the English referees since Howard Webb’s retirement and it was the Italian that ensured Clattenburg got the Champions League and European Championship final last year. It was only after he was appointed to the former that the FA hastily made sure he was also given the FA Cup final.
Clattenburg’s decision to leave is also financially motivated with his annual salary in Saudi Arabia estimated to be between £300,000 and £500,000. He would be able to earn around £200,000 currently with a £97,000 basic package as a select group referee plus bonuses and around another £100,000 earned through Uefa games.