Former Premier League referee Graham Poll has never been one to shy away from controversy when the occasion calls for it, a fact demonstrated perfectly by his latest comments on Mark Clattenburg.
Whilst fans of Crystal Palace will have trouble believing that Mark Clattenburg favours certain clubs within the Football League pyramid, it’s certainly a surprise to see a former top referee come out and publicly declare it in the national press. Of course, Poll has always been known as a man who is happy to stir the figurative pot but even for him, this seems like a rather explosive accusation.
Those of a Palace persuasion had already been incensed by Clattenburg’s seemingly nonsensical refereeing during a game at The Hawthorns in 2014; sadly that was to prove a mere appetiser for what was to come in the FA Cup Final of May just gone against Manchester United. Not once but twice, Mark decided to call play back rather than playing an advantage as Palace raced in on goal, before refusing to send Wayne Rooney off in extra time despite a number of worthy fouls with the England captain having already picked up a booking.
The cherry on top of that particularly unappetising cake came when pictures emerged of Sir Alex Ferguson jovially pretending to stuff a wodge of notes into Clattenburg’s top pocket prior to kick off, with Mark giggling excitedly like a young child having their tummy tickled alongside him.
In this instance, huge credit should be given to Poll for publicly shining a light on Clattenburg’s inconsistencies, given the profession the latter makes his living from. Plenty of “non-football” people have been screaming it from the rooftops for years but to see a former member of football’s inner-sanctum say the same with such clarity is both commendable and refreshing.