BREAKING NEWS: Referee Clattenburg swaps Premier League for Saudi Arabia

Updated: 

SOCCER-ENGLAND-DRB-LEI/

Referee Mark Clattenburg is set to leave the Premier League to join the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) has announced.

Clattenburg has been the subject of speculation in recent months after admitting he could - like many star European players - be lured away from England by an offer from the Chinese Super League.

Instead it is another relatively wealthy football region that has succeeded in tempting the 41-year-old to depart. He will take the role of Howard Webb, another former Premier League official, who resigned as Saudi Arabia's head of refereeing 11 days ago.

His new post, based on a one-year rolling contract, will involve working with referees in the Middle Eastern country, helping them to improve their performance, while he will also take charge of some league games.

Speaking on a video on the Saudi Football Federation's Twitter page, Clattenburg said: "This is an important move forward. We have professional referees in the country that I am leaving, which has been a big positive.

"One thing I'd like to do is work with the refereeing team and the president to make this happen so that it will be successful for many, many years to come."

The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) said Clattenburg had been "a great asset" to the Premier League and "an inspiration to those who want to get into refereeing".

Its statement continued: "We understand this is an exciting opportunity for Mark, and it further underlines the high esteem for English match officials throughout the world game."

Clattenburg is expected to leave before the next round of Premier League fixtures.