Mark Clattenburg Leaves Premier League for Saudi Arabian Football Federation

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2017

English referee Mark Clattenburg (L) gestures to Arsenal's Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Hull City at the Emirates Stadium in London on February 11, 2017.  / AFP / Glyn KIRK / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  /         (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
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Mark Clattenburg has quit as a Premier League referee ahead of joining the Saudi Arabian Football Federation.

The news follows long-term speculation that Clattenburg had become disillusioned with refereeing in England.

BBC Sport's Richard Conway relayed the Professional Game Match Officials Limited's statement confirming the move:

Phil Cadden of The Sun recently revealed that Clattenburg attempted to be released from his contract with PGMOL at the end of last year. The 41-year-old official was said to be frustrated by a lack of support from above: "[Clattenburg] is unhappy with the PGMOL management, the way it is run, the management style of Mike Riley as well as the lack of support and quality coaching on offer."

Rated by many as one of the top referees in the Premier League, Clattenburg enjoyed a stellar 2015-16 season, taking charge of the UEFA Euro 2016, UEFA Champions League and FA Cup finals. 

Per Cadden, he had a number of other options besides Saudi Arabia and received an offer from BT Sport to replace Howard Webb on their punditry roster.

Craig Hope reported in the Daily Mail that Clattenburg also had offers from both the United States and China.

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Clattenburg has refereed in the Premier League since 2004 and earned a reputation as "the best referee in Europe," per Hope.

His last game in charge in the English top flight was Arsenal's 2-0 win over Hull City on Saturday.

It was not one of his better performances, as he failed to spot the fact that Alexis Sanchez's opener went in off his hand, while he arguably should have sent off Kieran Gibbs for taking out Lazar Markovic, who would have been through on goal.

Per Webb on BBC 606, Clattenburg made the correct decision on Sanchez's goal given the letter of the law:

He will be a loss to the Premier League as, despite the odd mistake, he was one of the more consistently impressive referees and justly earned his fine reputation.