Image: talksport.com

Controversial English Premier League Referee, Mark Clattenburg is set to quit England and become Saudi Arabia’s new head of referees.

The 41-year-old, widely considered to be one of the best referees in football will replace a former top-flight official, Howard Web, who resigned as Saudi Arabia’s head of refereeing earlier in the month.

Clattengurg who is expected to leave before the next Premier League Fixtures, was in charge of the Euro 2016 final, the Champions League final and the FA Cup final last season.

On a live twitter broadcast on the Saudi Football Federation’s Twitter page, Clattenburg said: “This is an important move forward. We have professional referees in the country that I am leaving, which has been a big positive.

“One thing I’d like to do is work with the refereeing team and the president to make this happen so that it will be successful for many, many years to come.”

The Premier League’s referee body, Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) said he had been “a great asset” and “an inspiration to those who want to get into refereeing”.

“We understand this is an exciting opportunity for Mark, and it further underlines the high esteem for English match officials throughout the world game.”

The new job role in Saudi Arabia involves Clattenburg working with other referees to improve the quality of the game in the Asian Country.

He will take charge of a game himself every week. There are only 14 teams in the Saudi top flight and Al Hilal, Al Shabab and Al Nassr in Riyadh and Al Ittihad and Al Ahli in Jeddah are the five biggest clubs.

Largely seen as a controversial figure, he was suspended in 2008 over an allegation that he owed £60,000 as a result of a failed business venture.

Elite referee status revoked in the process but the sanction was reduced to eight-month suspension in February 2009 and backdated by five months.

In 2012, he was accused by Chelsea Football Club for using “inappropriate language” on Nigeria’s John Obi Mikel during a match with Manchester United. He was subsequently cleared by thevFA.

Also, last October, Clattenburg sent Coach, Jose Mourinho to the stands after a heated tunnel bust-up between the duo in United’s goalless draw against Burnley.

Mourinho waited in the tunnel at half-time to confront Clattengurg for not being given a penalty decision.

A colorful referee, he was slammed by majority of English Press last summer for inking two tattoos to commemorate refereeing the Euro 2016 and Champions League finals.

Despite the controversies and mistakes, Clattenburg is a respected referee and an experienced match official.

He refereed his first Football League in 2000 at just 25 years of age and in 2004, he joined the Premier League Select Group.

Two years later, he joined the FIFA list of Referees. He was named the best referee in the world at the Globe Soccer awards in Dubai last December.

Clattenburg by numbers

289: Premier League games

931: Yellow cards

47: Red cards

81: Penalties awarded

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Author: Timilehin Boyinde

Oluwatimilehin Boyinde is a research writer and a social media strategist. A public affairs analyst, he writes about history, politics, sports, life matters and technology. He is passionate about happenings in Local and international political arenas. He is an avid Manchester United fan and an unapologetic Nigerian.