Former Premier League and FIFA referee Mark Clattenburg says he "allowed Tottenham to self-destruct" when he refereed the 2-2 draw with Chelsea in May 2016 as Spurs conceded the title to Leicester. Spurs needed to beat Chelsea to retain any hope of winning the league. Clattenburg says he "went in with a game plan" so he could not be blamed by Tottenham for losing the title. He booked nine Spurs players in the bad-tempered match, but now says he could have sent off three players. Chelsea and Tottenham received record fines from the Football Association following the game, while Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele was banned for six games for violent conduct against Chelsea's Diego Costa.
Speaking to NBC's Men in Blazers podcast, he said: "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." Asked if he helped to "script" the game, he replied: "I helped the game. I certainly benefited the game by my style of refereeing. Some referees would have played by the book; Tottenham would have been down to seven or eight players and probably lost and they would've been looking for an excuse. But I didn't give them an excuse, because my game plan was: Let them lose the title."
Clattenburg took charge of the Euro 2016 final, as well as that year's UEFA Champions League and FA Cup finals. In February, he left his job as a Premier League official to become Saudi Arabia's new head of referees. Clattenburg says he had to change his style of refereeing when he took charge of European matches. "The English style of refereeing is different," he added. "I had to referee differently when I went into Europe because none of the top players in Europe would accept some of the physical contact that went on in the Premier League - but that was the theatre, that's what people loved. They love a tackle, they don't want it punished."