The World's top referee Mark Clattenburg is joining You-Are-The-Ref in what is a major coup for the internationally-acclaimed website.
Clattenburg, who was named as football's top official earlier this year, has been appointed as the International Director for You-Are-The-Ref's recently-launched online Academy and will lead what he describes as "the most influential forum of its type in world sport."
Clattenburg formally severed his ties with the English Premier League this week after accepting the post of Head of Refereeing at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation.
"I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the already-strong team at You-Are-The-Ref. com as I regard it as very much THE go-to website for referees of both the present and the future," he said.
"I love football and I love refereeing and it has long been a dream of mine to give something tangible back to the sport which has been so good to me down the years. With the launch of the new online Academy, I really couldn't have timed my arrival any better. It is a unique learning platform which is designed to move the age-old art of refereeing into a new era of excellence and professionalism," he added.
Clattenburg admitted that without the close, personal guidance of refereeing giant Pierluigi Collina he would never have established himself as football’s top official.
"If I am honest there was little or no help for me and for other aspiring referees when I was starting off. It was simply a case of learn on the job and keep persevering. Over the last two years or so Pierluigi’s hands-on advice has been absolutely crucial to my development as a referee. Whenever I needed him he was there – sometimes to applaud, sometimes to correct but always to help,“ he said.
"If I can do the same for other, younger referees I will be delighted. It is so important that we keep on producing really first-class officials. Football continues to grow and grow – and the quality of our officials must grow at the same rate," he added.
The YATR Academy recognises that refereeing – irrespective of level – is an integral part of the world’s most popular sport and has been designed to encourage the beginner, to educate the experienced and to challenge the professional.
"We believe that we are a much-needed and ground-breaking proposition and to that end we want the very best people onboard – and there is no bigger name in the world of refereeing than Mark Clattenburg," said YATR Director Jock Waugh.
"Mark’s insight and vast experience will, I am certain, prove to be invaluable to those who sign-up to our Academy. He will be honest and forthright and members will now have unique access to Mark, his views, opinions and advice."
Forty two year-old Clattenburg admitted that honouring the Premier League refereeing “code of silence“ had not always been easy.
"On many occasions I admit it was downright frustrating,“ he said. "I am now free of those shackles. I will be viewing things from the outside and I won’t hesitate to give my honest opinions on the incidents which prompt arguments amongst supporters across the world. Professional football isn’t so much a matter for debate – it IS the debate…and I will now be a part of it," he added.