Mark Clattenburg defends comments made regarding Chelsea-Tottenham encounter

Watch Mark Clattenburg explain to SSN that he never pre-judged whether to send players off or not during his refereeing career

Mark Clattenburg insists his comments about having a "game plan" to avoid the headlines in Chelsea's clash with Tottenham in May 2016 have been taken "out of context".

The former Premier League referee exclusively told Sky Sports News on Monday that he does not regret his officiating in that 'Battle of the Bridge', despite facing criticism for admitting to a podcast that he should have issued at least three red cards.

Clattenburg, speaking from Saudi Arabia where he is head of refereeing, says he is speaking out now he has left the Premier League to "give people an insight into what it was like to referee in such a huge game".

Eric Dier is shown a yellow card by Clattenburg on the ill-fated night 18 months ago
Image: Eric Dier is shown a yellow card by Clattenburg during the contentious match at Stamford Bridge last year

He told Sky Sports News: "Many referees decide they don't want to be the centre of attention, but if I'd have sent off three Tottenham players, the whole world would have blamed Mark Clattenburg for costing Tottenham the title.

"That's the balance that top-level officials have to try and achieve - what's right for the game and the laws - and that's what a lot of people don't understand.

"I can understand, after the abuse I've had today, why people don't want to become referees. I've taken abuse for 13 years. When you're a Premier League referee, you're not going to keep everybody happy, you're going to upset some teams.

"Referees haven't been allowed to speak for years. I want to try and educate and for people to understand. Yes, there's words that have been taken out of context, and I could have used different words in some places.

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"But I don't regret what I did in that match. I thoroughly enjoyed the match. I came off the pitch knowing that I hadn't influenced the result, and that was the most important thing."

Clattenburg insists he said more in the podcast than has been widely debated on social media, and insists: "I never pre-judge players.

"If people listened to the full podcast, which lasted 20 to 30 minutes, I would have answered that question. I treat every player exactly the same.

Chelsea's Eden Hazard celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game v Tottenham, Premier League
Image: Eden Hazard scored to earn Chelsea a 2-2 draw and knock Spurs out of the Premier League title race

"We talked about refereeing, Saudi Arabia, video tech, enjoyable matches, Chelsea-Tottenham, what do we mean by game plans, and making sure I'm best prepared.

"Teams will go into a match best prepared, scouting the opposition. As a referee I've got to go into the game and make sure I'm forearmed with all the information that I need to give my best performance."

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