Mark Clattenburg has never felt well treated or respected by the authorities in English football.

He was removed from the Community Shield in 2008 and incorrectly sacked in 2009 after allegations about his business debts.

He also had to wait until 2016 to be appointed to the FA Cup final. The Jack the Lad Geordie just didn’t fit with the FA’s ideal.

I know how he feels having crossed swords on many occasions with the FA referees committee and their chairman David Elleray; the former Harrow house- master who liked his referees to be seen and not heard.

I’d imagine the only thing that could make 41-year-old Clattenburg stay a little longer was his inclusion on FIFA’s shortlist at next year’s World Cup. Given his recent record there was a possibility of him taking charge of the final.

Given his close relationship with Pierluigi Collina, it may be that his departure from the Premier League would not prevent his attendance in Russia. Saudi Arabia is a FIFA country and their referees are eligible to officiate at World cup finals.

Clattenburg may be in the process of negotiating a position as a FIFA Saudi referee.

Alternatively he might just have decided that the way he has been treated means he felt no allegiance to England and so he took up this opportunity to referee and train local refs in Saudi Arabia.

Then there is the small matter of remuneration.

Premier League players are paid in excess of £250,000 a week, but all the referees are ‘rewarded’ equally. Those with five years’ service or more are paid about £90,000 – that’s for the year not per week.

Refereeing in this country really is in crisis and it is all down to the management of the top referees and the development of those further down the refereeing ladder.
Clattenburg gestures during the FA Cup final between Manchester United and Crystal Palace

Howard Webb retired early after his World Cup success; I walked away when 42, totally disillusioned with the way referees were treated by the FA.

Surely the powers-that-be must see there is a damning pattern and investigate the entire set-up.

There is an ever-weakening select group of referees and a dearth of talent to replace them.

Of course the Premier League will carry on without Clattenburg, but the best league deserves the best refs and we’ve just lost one of the very best.

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