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World Class Geordie Mark Clattenburg Shows England The Way




What do you call an Englishman at Euro 2016?   Mark Clattenburg

So went the latest variation about one of the oldest jokes in the book – the England national football team – yet there is in truth a lot to be learned from the North-East referee’s presence at The Stade de France in Paris on Sunday night, where he officiated Portugal’s 1-0 victory over hosts France.

Forty-one year-old Mark Clattenburg is a modern ref who already had Olympic Gold on his refereeing CV from officiating the Brazil-Mexico Final of the Olympics in London in 2012 before his historic treble of officiating the 2016 FA Cup Final, UEFA Champions League Final and the UEFA Euros Final in France.

  1. Firstly and, most importantly, is that Mark Clattenburg is a man from the greatest hotbed of soccer on Planet Football – Newcastle and the North-East of England.

Football is in his blood and a little known fact about him is he wanted to be a professional footballer like so many young men from the North-East and all over the world yet after unsuccessful trials at Millwall and York was steered into refereeing by a football teacher with forward-thinking vision.

To say Clattenburg has never looked back is a understatement as he has risen to the very top of the officiating profession in the 13 years since a debut running the line in the competitive local Northern League in 1993 has blossomed into being man in the middle of the glittering final of The Euros.

The latest continuation of a tradition of sporting and footballing excellence from the North-East is a connection that must not be overlooked and Clattenburg cites the example of an upbringing in tough Leagues in the North where players might be full of drink from the night before as crucial to his development as a man-manager of difficult players and situations.

This is like the ‘streetwise’ element missing from England at the last World Cup according to Captain Wayne Rooney and certainly again at The Euros where The Three Lions were accused of being a pampered Academy generation not able to withstand adversity against a tough Icelandic team.

Where was England’s backbone, heart, spirit and tough winning mentality when it mattered vs Iceland?

Geordies have a Spartan character who know whats what in the football world usually because they’ve been there and done it in major international tournaments with their country.

From the brothers Sir Bobby and Jack Charlton OBE before him who lifted the World Cup for England in 1966 to Sir Bobby Robson, who took England within a whisker of the 1990 World Cup Final and may have won it in 1986 had a Clattenburg-type been in charge when Diego Maradona punched the ball into the net, The Three Lions have never done anything without a Geordie or three around.

Think Euro 96 when England last hosted a major tournament & the goals of Alan Shearer & genius of Paul Gascoigne fired Terry Venable’s Three Lions to the brink of glory and an agonizing penalty KO.

Or six years previously in 1990 when the North-East playing trio of Peter Beardsley, Paul Gascoigne and Chris Waddle managed by Sir Bobby Robson led England to within a whisker of the Final.

Have England ever won a major tournament knock-out game without a Geordie in the team or managing it?


Indeed, the last England team to win a knock-out match in a major tournament was at The World Cup in 2006 contained yet another Geordie footballer in the starting line-up – Manchester United’s Michael Carrick, whose club-mate David Beckham scored the goal.

And after doing very little at the last World Cup and now latest ignominious Euros failure, another Geordie Andy Carroll’s goal against Sweden at The Euros in 2012 is looking pretty special and exactly the kind of Plan B England could have done with yet strangely players from Newcastle or playing for Newcastle are overlooked these days like Andros Townsend.

If the star pundits of The Euros, Slaven Bilic or Alan Shearer  had been England boss then a certain 6ft 4in Geordie striker would have at least been a Plan B option from the bench and rather than being bulllied by the Icelanders would have been doing the bullying as in evidence against France and Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny for Bilic’s club West Ham.


2. Clattenburg’s rise to UEFA’s Top Ref makes a compelling case for a foreign player Premier League quotient

The argument that the England national team would be better if their was a limit on foreigner players in the Premier League is a theory backed up by the success of Mark Clattenburg.

The English Premier League, indeed all of The Football League is exclusively officiated by English and British officials so upcoming referees have untramelled early access to high levels of the game they love.

“It helped English refereeing. The clubs and people within football want experience but you can only get experience by refereeing football matches…My season comprised 50-55 matches with 30-35 as a referee plus assistant, European games etc….We get a huge number of matches throughout the season to get experience from whereas its difficult to get that from 20 matches a season and you’re only going to get to the very top from doing matches – but its from the (top level) environment and the stress levels that you learn.” Clattenburg says

English officials are not competing with the cream of experienced officials from Italy, France, Germany and Spain for positions in the refereeing fraternity at an early age or the top jobs so gain plenty of valuable experience in the real Leagues quicker plus fast-track access to the highest level.

Clattenburg didn’t sit on a refs Premier League subs bench watching the world’s best referee Pierluigi Collina strut his stuff, he was in the thick of the action at League Two, League One, Championship then Premier League level and ascended the ranks of important Leagues and occasions rapidly.


3. Clattenburg is a 21st Century Personality and Referee for the Modern World

Of course, in such a competitive, high-profile and unpredictable sport like modern-day football, Clattenburg like any referee of 300+ top level games hasn’t had a career free of controversy.

Indeed, he has had a career with its fair share of it on and off the pitch from the dismissed accusations of racism from a Chelsea – Man United match at Stamford Bridge in 2012 to the front page tabloid headlines he hit when he left a game before the post-match cooling-off curfew to attend an Ed Sheeran concert.

What sets Clattenburg apart – like Cristiano Ronaldo whom he officiated in both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Euro 2016 Final – is his humility and willingness to learn from his mistakes, a constant theme in his discourse:

“I learned from that mistake and the best referees learn from their mistakes.” he says of SheeranGate

in direct contrast to the unfair public persona that he is arrogant or attention-seeking, even if most of the jibes on social media are in the spirit of fun.

The hilarious Celebrity Refs account on Twitter & Vine often highlights his physical gestures from penalty pointing to the stretcher gesture in the final on Sunday yet in a high-paced game in front of an increasingly massive television audience, these visual cues to both watching audience and also to his officiating assistants expertly gets the message across in the most direct way.

Body language and gestures are also crucial to transcending the language barriers found on the pitch between an English referee like Clattenburg and the global galaxy of stars he officiates in The Premier League and especially in The Champions League and Euros as a top figure on UEFA’s list.

4. Clattenburg is Ultra-Professional and Dedicated

A studious and first-class professional approach doing his research and homework, modelling other expert referees and incorporating their best features and methods without slavishly copying for example revered ex-English referee George Courtney as well as heeding the lessons and advice offered by his mentor Steve Bennett has made Clattenburg’s path to the top a swift one.

He promotes the virtues of teamwork and his reliance on his assistants and speaks of his refereeing career as making him a better person, learning from every experience and accepting criticism as a path to improvement. A fascinating insight into the reffing at the very highest level of the game can be found in this video from 34 mins onwards when Pierluigi Collina raises his game to another level:

Clattenburg’s stats from 2,774 meters of high speed running (14 to 20 km/h) and 999 meters of very high speed running (> 20 km/h) during The Final show that referees are athletes in their own right and a 98% correct-decision rate for Premier League referees is phenomenal, just a shame Clattenburg’s own team Newcastle, a team he cannot referee, seem to get that other 2%…

About the only decision he got wrong in The Euros final was not to award a free kick for Dimitri Payet’s hatchet challenge on Cristiano Ronaldo or even take further action with a card for what was a deliberate act to put Ronaldo out of the game.

This writer was surprised to see pundits defend the Frenchman as I played schoolboy football with a right-back who used to deal with tricky left-wingers in the same way and I wasn’t surprised to receive a “#KneeOnKnee Still getting away with it?” text during the final and the sooner such challenges are seen for what they are and eradicated the better.

The Future is Bright for Clattenburg – and England?

So far, Clattenburg’s World Cup experience has been limited to a 4th official role in a 2010 Qualifying Game yet along with England, he’ll already have his sights set on playing an important role in the World Cup in Russia in 2018.

If the FA and England’s players, coaches and staff look at the approach of Mark Clattenburg, heed the lessons he has learned and puts into constant practice to continually improve himself  and his performance and put in a 21st century manager with a similar switched-on and on-the-ball attitude then The Three Lions can significantly raise their game. Such a man is Alan Shearer.

One of Clattenburg’s best decisions to date was awarding this penalty in Alan Shearer’s testimonial allowing the Geordie Legend to come on and cap his curtain-raising testimonial game with a typically-dispatched winning penalty in front of The Gallowgate.

If there is anyone with similar sense of timing and knowledge for what the big occasion demands in The Football Association they will appoint Shearer as England boss and we’ll be celebrating more than just having the world’s best referee at Russia 2018. Bravo, Mark Clattenburg.


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Birmingham City Fan Jailed for 14 Days for Punching Aston Villa Player

Anthony DiMoro



27-year old Paul Mitchel, a Birmingham City fan has been jailed for 14 days after he plead guilt to assaulting Aston Villa midfielder Jack Graelish during the derby on Sunday.

Mitchell rushed the pitch and took a swing at Graelish when the player’s back was turned at Birmingham City’s St. Andrew’s stadium during the Championship match on Sunday.

Mitchell admitted to invading the pitch and has been officially banned from attending any football match in the U.K. for up to 10 years, and was also ordered to pay £350 in total fines.

Graelish made a statement in which he described how he was “shocked and scared” by the attack.

“I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident,” he said (h/t ESPN). “It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon.”

“He cannot explain what came over himself yesterday morning,” Mitchell’s lawyer, Vaughn Whistance, said on Monday.

“His initial foolish intention was to go onto the pitch to whip up the crowd. He is certainly remorseful today. He is a man with a partner, they have a 2-year-old together and they’re expecting their second child.”

“This weekend a line has been crossed in terms of fan behaviour,” said a spokesperson for the FA.

“On Sunday we saw two separate incidents, at Birmingham City and Arsenal, of individuals entering the field of play and assaulting players.

“Not only is it an offence to enter the pitch, which could result in a club ban and criminal charges for the individual, but it also puts the safety of the players at risk.

“This is entirely unacceptable and we strongly condemn both incidents.

“We will be working with the clubs, the leagues and the police to discuss what collectively needs to be done to protect players and officials on the pitch.

“In addition, we have written to both Birmingham City and Arsenal to seek their observations to examine the security measures they had in place.”

Birmingham City apologized to Grealish and Aston Villa and banned Mitchell for life.

“Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa Football Club for an incident in Sunday afternoon’s derby match,” a club statement said.

“We deplore the behaviour of the individual who committed this act and rest assured he will be banned from St. Andrew’s for life. The club will also support any further punishment this individual may face in the eyes of the law.

“The club will be working with the relevant authorities to investigate all the circumstances and we will be reviewing our stadium safety procedures.

“What happened has no place in football or society. Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this — there are no excuses.

“Again, we apologise to Jack and all at Aston Villa Football Club.”


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Major League Soccer, Twitch Ink One-Year Partnership

Anthony DiMoro



Major League Soccer (MLS) has inked a one-year sponsorship deal with popular streaming platform Twitch, per an official announcement from MLS.

Starting in March, MLS will start streaming the second season of their eMLS Cup, their esports league in conjunction with EA Sports’ FIFA franchise.

“FIFA is one of the main generators of the fans that we have” MLS Digital Senior VP Chris Schlosser said, via an official statement. “If you look at it historically – radio built baseball, television built the NFL and NBA, and the internet is building soccer.”

The partnership between Twitch and MLS could also include content outside of the eMLS Cup, featuring highlights or media produced by MLS teams, or clips of MLS games moving forward.

“We are looking to do some esports events – this is something we are taking a hard look at” DC United Chief Executive and Managing General Owner Jason Levin said, via an official statement.

“All of esports is a dramatically growing industry. It’s an opportunity to engage our current fans and connect with some younger sports fans who don’t know as much about DC United. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to grow our fanbase more than anything.”

It’s an exciting time for streaming, particularly on Twitch, as live sports such as the NBA’s G League, and MLS are starting to develop Twitch streams to help tap into the streaming market, diversify their digital content, and get more involved with esports teams and esports organizations.

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Manchester United Place Paul Pogba Contract Talks on Hold

Anthony DiMoro



Manchester United is putting a hold on any contract negotiations or talks with Frenchman Paul Pogba, who is two years into a five-year pact he inked with the club when he returned from Juventus back in 2016.

Manchester United remain confident that they can convince Pogba, who has had a roller coaster run at Old Trafford, to stay with the club for the long-term future, according to ESPN FC’s Rob Dawson.

The club had hoped to engage in preliminary negotiations with Pogba, along with his agent Mino Raiola in September following Pogba’s successful stint playing in the World Cup earlier this Summer in Russie, but Pogba’s unhappiness with his situation in Manchester is now coming into play during talks.

While Pogba will not push for a move away in January 2019, he could be tempted by Barcelona next summer should they show a renewed interest in acquiring him.

Pogba’s agent, Raiola, is known for engaging in rather difficult negotiations concerning his clients and had done so during Pogba’s world record £89.3 million move from Juventus, so United was hoping to get an early start on contract talks this time around.

Per the report ESPN FC, after initial talks occurred earlier this month the plan was to step up discussions at the beginning of next season before executing the deal officially in early 2020.

Those scheduled negotiations are now being pushed back.

Per sources cited in the report, United is still relaxed about the situation with Pogba, due to their one-year option that they can fall back on which could be used to keep Pogba at Old Trafford until the Summer of 2022.

However, United is confident that they can reach a breakthrough with Pogba in negotiations prior to then.

It will be interesting to see how the lines shake up as the Pogba negotiations carry on. has the latest free bets and they will surely keep monitoring the latest lines on Pogba’s future with United.

The report goes on to note that sources close to Pogba continue to insist that the cloud of uncertainty surrounding his future with the club is not designed to be a tactic to elicit any sort of pay raise.

Additionally, had executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward not refused to listen to any offers over the summer, Pogba likely would have joined Barcelona.

While Pogba is fine playing for manager Jose Mourinho this season, despite their well-documented rocky relationship in the past, he is not ruling out a move in the future.


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