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17th Feb 2017

Juan Mata played a role in Mark Clattenburg’s decision to leave the Premier League

The incident with Mata and John Obi Mikel stuck with the veteran official.

Darragh Murphy

Mark Clattenburg is off to Saudi Arabia and money, apparently, wasn’t the only incentive behind the move.

The veteran Premier League official is set to take up a new role as Head of Referees in Saudi Arabia after cementing his reputation as one of the top refs in world football, going on to officiate both the Euro 2016 and Champions League finals last season.

But his time in England is now up and one of the motivating factors in his decision to move was apparently the lack of support he received during the 2012 incident between Clattenburg and then-Chelsea midfielders Juan Mata and John Obi Mikel.

Five years ago, reports claimed that Chelsea had alleged that Clattenburg called Mata “a Spanish twat” and Mikel “a monkey” during a fiery clash against Manchester United.

An FA investigation cleared the official of any wrongdoing but Clattenburg has always felt that he should have received more support during that turbulent point in his career, according to Keith Hackett, former general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board.

“It’s bad news for English refereeing. The Premier League has lost the world’s best ref – it’s a massive blow,” Hackett told the Daily Star.

“I think it’s down to poor management. There were incidents when the PGMOL haven’t supported or clarified decisions when they’ve needed to.

“Mark felt after the Mata incident no-one supported him. He was left high and dry.”

Clattenburg’s last game in English football came last weekend, when he oversaw Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Hull at the Emirates.

He will not take charge of an FA Cup match this weekend.