Mark Clattenburg, the Premier League's youngest referee and an official respected by all except Everton fans who have never forgiven him for last season's Goodison derby defeat, has been removed from Sunday's Community Shield and suspended from all refereeing duties pending an investigation into alleged £60,000 debts.
Clattenburg, 33, is a qualified electrician who has run a number of companies but one of them, MC Electrical Retail N/E Ltd, has been wound up by the county court after the firm failed to pay off debts to a former associate of the official, John Hepworth. The two men trained as electricians together in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, and set up their own firm but at the beginning of this year, Clattenburg's firm allegedly began falling behind in payments to another of his associate's firms, according to Hepworth.
In May, Hepworth served Clattenburg's firm with legal papers demanding payment of £59,589 – roughly the same figure he commands as a top flight referee. Hepworth took the issue to a county court, which wound up the firm under the Insolvency Act. Clattenburg is also being taken to court later this month by another firm which claims he owes them £7,200. He refutes the allegations. Clattenburg set a post-war record by making his debut as a Football League referee at the age of just 25 in the match between Chesterfield and York in August 2000. He became a Fifa referee in 2006, at a younger age than any English referee in living memory. Sir Alex Ferguson was sent to the stands by him during his side's 1-0 defeat at Bolton last autumn. Clattenburg has now been replaced by Peter Walton and the chances of him officiating at the start of the Premier League season also seem remote. A joint statement from the Football Association and referees' body the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO) read: "It has been decided he will not officiate any matches pending enquiries into the background to these reports."
A PGMO spokesman added: "It is in the best interests of Mark Clattenburg and the game that these reports are fully investigated. We hope to resolve this matter swiftly."
Everton fans launched an online petition asking the FA to ban Clattenburg from the Premier League for life during the match in which he gave Liverpool two penalties, before ignoring Everton's claims for a spot-kick from the final attack of the game.
* Bournemouth will start the League Two season on minus 17 points. They have been handed the points penalty after failing to exit administration via the necessary Company Voluntary Agreement and for being declared insolvent for the second time in as many years.