Cesc Fabregas was not the only one baffled by Mark Clattenburg’s Chelsea v Tottenham comments
The referee took charge of the game that decided the destination of the 2015/16 Premier League title.
Needing to win to keep their title hopes alive, Tottenham lost a 2-0 lead at Stamford Bridge as Clattenburg booked nine Spurs players, while Chelsea and Spurs received fines of £375,000 and £225,000 respectively from the Football Association.
But the 42-year-old said he went into the game with a plan to avoid negative headlines.
Clattenburg told NBC’s Men in Blazers podcast: “I allowed them (Spurs) to self-destruct so all the media, all the people in the world went: ‘Tottenham lost the title.’
“If I sent three players off from Tottenham, what are the headlines? ‘Clattenburg cost Tottenham the title.’ It was pure theatre that Tottenham self-destructed against Chelsea and Leicester won the title.”
Clattenburg, who left his job in the Premier League in February to become Saudi Arabia’s head of referees, added that he feared if he sent several Spurs players off, that would have been focused on as the reason the north London side lost the title race.
“I didn’t give them an excuse,” he said. “Because my game plan was: Let them lose the title.”
Chelsea’s Fabregas tweeted his reaction to the story in emoji form.
Many on social media took issue with the comments.
How on earth did Clattenburg think he was going to come out of those quotes well? Huge lack of self -awareness— Charlie Skillen (@charlieskillen) December 4, 2017
Clattenburg’s comments were also described as “damaging” and “disgraceful”.
Clattenburg's comments are so damaging. Admitting that external factors influenced how he decided to enforce the rules of the game only encourages the in-game protests from fans/managers/media that officials are trying to decrease?— Breathe Chelsea (@BreatheChels) December 4, 2017
Some might find Clattenburg's comments funny. I find them disgraceful. What other games did he not bother applying the laws to because he was thinking about the media coverage?— Lee Hurley (@HLeeHurley) December 4, 2017
Others ruminated on the potential ramifications of his refereeing.
If Chelsea had beaten 8/9/10 man Spurs we would have finished 1 place higher... there's a million quid, Clattenburg. Plus £375k fine for failure to control players when it kicked off.— Ramzi (@ShedUpperMan) December 4, 2017
Stoke City finished one place above Chelsea in the Premier League that season, and received a merit payment of over £1 million more than Chelsea as a result.
But not everybody seemed bothered by Clattenburg’s comments.
If you're gonna complain about Clattenburg playing to create the best possible theatre instead of doing his job properly then you have no business watching this league.— Michael Keshani (@MichaelKeshani) December 4, 2017
Was Clattenburg right to suggest teams look for excuses when things don’t go their way, or are his comments a worrying sign of how some games are officiated?