Did you read the news today? About a lucky man who made the grade? But while the news was presented as rather sad, all I could do was laugh.
If you haven’t heard the news today (and didn’t read the headline), Mark Clattenburg has quit the Premier League and moved to
China Saudi Arabia. In the middle of the season. Not even during a transfer window. No, this is not a joke. This is the real world, ladies and gentlemen.
There was even a press conference — a full hour! — because of course there was. This is Mark Clattenburg we’re talking about here.
Mark Clattenburg actually had a press conference to announce his move to Saudi Arabia. Fantastic. pic.twitter.com/YMo33HawUh— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 16, 2017
If we needed any further confirmation of Clattenburg’s celebrity referee status, that should do nicely, I’d think. When the referee has become bigger than the game, it’s not goodbye, it’s good riddance. Regardless of how good or not good he may have been, or how good or bad his reputation may have been outside of England (and, judging by his recent assignments, it was pretty good).
He will be missed, writes former referee Keith Hackett, who also blames the lack of support Clattenburg received (from the PGMOL) after mouthing off at Juan Mata and after being accused of racial abuse by Mikel (this latter allegation turned out to be untrue). Still, it’s hard to empathize with a referee, any referee, given the lack of accountability for their performances and mistakes during games. Millions of pounds, not to mention players’ and managers’ careers are on the line thanks to their decisions, most of which seem to be above review or reproach.
Yes, they should be paid more. Yes, they should have technology to help them make the correct decisions. No, I don’t need to know their names. I shouldn’t need to know their names; the game is not about them and it shouldn’t be.
PGMO statement on Clattenburg to Saudi move pic.twitter.com/3ovjrx2sLf— Dan Roan (@danroan) February 16, 2017
Clattenburg refereed 32 Chelsea games in his career (so far), the last of which was the 3-0 win over Burnley at the start of the season. CORRECTION: it’s actually 33, and his last Chelsea match was the 1-1 against Liverpool a few weeks ago.
Despite his reputation as a big game referee, he only took charge of one non-Premier League match for Chelsea, our 3-1 win over Huddersfield in the 2007-08 FA Cup fifth round. Chelsea won 20 of his 33 games, losing 5, for a winning percentage of just over 60 per cent, which is neither significantly better nor significantly worse than our record under most under high-profile referees (Dean: 63%; Dowd: 64%; Atkinson: 64%; Foy: 66%; Oliver: 57%; etc.).
So no, he really won’t be missed. He will be replaced by an equally (in)competent referee who will make just as many high-profile errors and low-profile good calls, but probably without as much preening and facial contorting and attention-seeking and weird lizard tongue-ing.
Mark Clattenburg is a lizard person pic.twitter.com/MsnEcqRdSo— Rahul Bombay (@rahuldsouza) May 29, 2016
Mark Clattenburg has quit the Premier League ... and nothing happened.