Leading referee Mark Clattenburg stunned football yesterday after announcing his decision to leave the Premier League after 12 years to work in Saudi Arabia.
The 41-year-old Englishman’s move was confirmed by Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the organisation which provides and trains officials for the Premier League, English Football League and Football Association.
Clattenburg, who became an assistant referee in the Northern League at 18, has reportedly grown unhappy with the level of public support officials are given by PGMOL and he has been linked with various lucrative moves abroad.
With no Premier League fixtures this weekend, Clattenburg’s final top-flight game was Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Hull on Saturday — another game with a refereeing controversy when a handball was missed before Alexis Sanchez’s opening goal.
Clattenburg has been a Fifa referee since 2006 and officiated the Olympic men’s football final at London 2012.
His career has not been without lows, though, as he served an eight-month suspension in 2008 and 2009 after PGMOL investigated his business dealings and in 2012 Chelsea made a formal complaint that he had used inappropriate language towards Jon Obi Mikel, allegedy calling the midfielder a monkey, during a game against Manchester United. He was, however, cleared of any wrongdoing.