The Chinese Super League has caused quite a stir in the past year with a number of high profile players joining its clubs for astronomical transfer fees.
Last week Oscar became the latest Premier League export to China but now the league has their eye on England’s top referee.
Reports in the Daily Mail suggest that Mark Clattenburg is being lined up as China’s newest import. England’s highest rated referee would certainly be an asset to the Super League and would add to an already glittering profile that includes players such as Ramires, Hulk and Jackson Martinez.
The league has caught the attention of world football in recent times. Its teams command huge transfer budgets and the capacity to offer their foreign imports massive pay packages.
On Thursday The Guardian reported that Shanghai Shenhua had signed Carlos Tevez on a two-year, £615,000-a-week deal, and referee Clattenburg looks to be next on the league’s wish list.
41-year-old Clattenburg has been a referee in the Premier League since 2004 after beginning as a teenager in 1990. In 2008 he took charge of his first Champions League game between Fenerbahce and MTK Budapest and has been entrusted with a number of key domestic, European and international games ever since.
2016 was a memorable year for Clattenburg too. He officiated the Europa League, Champions League and FA Cup finals. Last summer, his season was rounded off after taking charge of the Euro 2016 final, where Portugal triumphed over hosts France in Paris.
Clattenburg’s involvement in such high stake games has certainly raised his profile and would be a major coup for the Chinese Super League. A move for Clattenburg would also surely send out a signal of intent by its wealthy investors.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena