It’s a ‘hard life’ for Newcastle fan and top referee Mark Clattenburg, currently out in Australia for the ‘International Champions Cup’.
The friendly competition sees top clubs from around the World competing, with Real Madrid, Manchester City and AS Roma taking part this month.
Saturday night saw Clattenburg officiating in front of 80,000 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as AS Roma and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (bit of a difference to his former teammates playing a third tier club in the US in front of 10,000 on the same night) defeated Real Madrid 7-6 on penalties, after an impressive clean sheet against the likes of Ronaldo and Bale.
However, despite mingling with the best players in the World, Mark Clattenburg only has one stand out ambition.
Interviewed by news.com.au in Australia, the Geordie referee was asked if he would choose to referee an FA Cup final or Newcastle United to reach the Wembley showpiece:
“I’d rather see Newcastle in it but I’m a realist, I have been to many semi-finals and finals as a fan but the way Newcastle are at the moment, a club in transition, I can’t see them making it.
“Fingers crossed though, you never know, with a bit of luck and if they get the right draw they might make the semi or the final, and that wouldn’t disappoint me as a referee, having to miss out.”
“I have done Newcastle friendly matches and charity matches & testimonials. I think most people know that I’m a Newcastle fan and so Alan Shearer, for instance, asked me to referee his testimonial match.”
“To have the opportunity to go out on to St James’ Park (Newcastle’s home ground), it was a boyhood dream.”
Happy to avoid Sunderland matches:
“With Premier League matches, because you have to declare your interest in any club, I can’t do Newcastle matches.
“Also, my brother is a Sunderland season ticket holder and so that means I can’t do Sunderland matches either, but because they are our local rivals I wouldn’t want to do their games anyway.”
Newcastle appear to have been the victims of some dubious refereeing appointments in recent seasons, with especially some matches in London and the North West being officiated by referees living very close to the host clubs…