Mark Clattenburg was not a fan of the Premier League referees’ annual Christmas party – because his fellow officials were so tight!
The former Premier League referee, most recently plying his trade in the Chinese Super League, has lifted the lid on what it was like to be a top-flight whistleblower in the latest episode of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast.
Speaking to Ruby Walsh and Paddy on this week’s show, Clattenburg revealed how he was never keen to socialise with his fellow referees as they were often reluctant to get their wallets out.
“Every year we used to have a Christmas party, but it was boring as f*ck,” he said.
“They weren’t guys I would have a drink with. I made my bunch of mates up in the north, and then I had the referees which – I understood what they were like – they wanted any bit of money, but they were tight as anything. They wouldn’t even go to the bar to buy a beer.
“You would end up going to the bar and then you would turn round and there was 10 of them behind them waiting for a pint!
That’s how tight they were, so they weren’t guys I would like to socialise with.
“There’s not many of them I’m still speaking to even though I left three years ago, and that doesn’t bother us because I’ve got my great friends outside of refereeing in life.
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“In football, that’s what you need sometimes – People who are your strength outside of it because football and in any top-level sport you’re quite insular.”
Clattenburg was a Premier League referee for 13 years and rose to the top of his profession, taking charge of the Champions League and European Championship finals in 2016.
The 45-year-old Geordie was a handy player in his day, but believes refereeing is a much harder profession due to the ever-increasing levels of scrutiny involved.
“It’s hard in refereeing because when you are a player you can miss two open goals and score two goals and you are a hero if you win,” he said.
“In refereeing, I could make 30 or 40 amazing decisions, play two great advantages that lead to goals which gives you a good buzz, but then if you make one mistake, you’re remembered for that one mistake.
“That’s the hardest thing to deal with where you’re scrutinised that much. It’s the only industry I think in the world, where you are scrutinised to that nth degree.
“You’ve even got people now where they’re making subjective decisions – one argues penalty, one argues it doesn’t deserve one – and the poor referee in the middle doesn’t have a say anymore.”
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