Referee Mark Clattenburg quitting Premier League for job in Saudi Arabia

Arsenal‘s victory over Hull City last weekend appears to have been Mark Clattenburg’s last match as a Premier League official.

Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) released a statement Thursday confirming that Clattenburg is leaving his role to take up a position with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, where he’ll become head of officials.

“The PGMOL would like to wish Mark Clattenburg well as he prepares for his move to the Saudi Arabaian Football Federation,” the statement read.

“… We understand this is an exciting opportunity for Mark as well as further underlining what high esteem English match officials are held (in) throughout the world game.”

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

The Saudi Football Federation confirmed the 41-year-old will take over as the country’s new head of officials following former Premier League referee Howard Webb’s resignation 11 days ago.

“This is an important move forward,” Clattenburg told reporters during his unveiling, according to the BBC. “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 BBC also reports that Clattenburg has signed a one-year rolling contract.

Though PGMOL’s statement did not specify a date for Clattenburg’s departure, the Press Association suggests he will leave before Premier League matches resume Feb. 25.

Clattenburg, who officiated the 2016 European Championship final in France as well as the Champions League final in Milan, Italy, had previously expressed a desire to work abroad. He said he was intrigued by the thought of plying his trade in China after being linked with a move to the high-spending Chinese Super League.

“If an opportunity came along – I am contracted to the Premier League – but I have to look at my long-term strategy of my career,” Clattenburg told Rob Harris of the Associated Press in December. How long can I last as a referee? I have been in the Premier League 12 years. It’s been a wonderful 12 years.”

His last match, however, was far from wonderful – the English referee missed a blatant handball committed by Alexis Sanchez before the Arsenal star scored the go-ahead goal. According to Hull players and coaches, Clattenburg apologised for the mistake at halftime as Arsenal went on to claim a 2-0 win.

EPL | theScore

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