Mark Clattenburg has spoken out against the backlash he’s received, after his comments on choosing not to give Tottenham players red cards in a league game.

Clattenburg told a Men in Blazers podcast that he had a plan for the 2016 match between Chelsea and Spurs, preferring to allow Tottenham to self-destruct, rather than giving them the excuse of a couple of red cards.

Many fans spoke out against the quotes, pointing out that Clattenburg was lucky Spurs didn’t end up winning, or taking advantage of the lack of suspensions to finish above Arsenal. Then there were the punters who bet on a red card in the game, who weren’t particularly pleased either.

Clattenburg spoke to Sky Sports to defend himself, saying: “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,” reports the Standard.

Mark Clattenburg
Mark Clattenburg, former Premier League referee. Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

“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. 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.”

I don’t think anyone denies that being a referee is a tough job, and can also be an unpleasant one when you make mistakes.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the most important thing when refereeing is to make the right decisions, not to make decisions you’re comfortable with, or calls that don’t influence the game.

Sometimes the correct decision can very heavily influence the game, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it.

If referees are more concerned with how they’re perceived than getting things right, then that’s not a good sign. Hopefully other top referees don’t feel the same way as Clattenburg does, but I have a feeling they might do.