Mark Clattenburg says he allowed Tottenham to “self-destruct” in their 2-2 draw with Chelsea in May 2016, so that he could not be blamed for Leicester securing the Premier League title.
Tottenham needed to beat the reigning champions at Stamford Bridge if they were to retain any hope of stopping Leicester lifting the trophy.
In a fractious contest, the hosts came from 2-0 down to claim a point with nine Tottenham players and three Chelsea players booked by Clattenburg.
However, Clattenburg says he could have taken much more draconian action during the match, but was happy to let Tottenham “self-destruct” instead.
He told NBC’s Men in Blazers podcast: “I allowed them to self-destruct so all the media, all the people in the world could go: ‘Tottenham lost the title’.
“If I sent three players off from Tottenham, what are the headlines? ‘Clattenburg cost Tottenham the title’. It was pure theatre that Tottenham self-destructed against Chelsea and Leicester won the title.
“Some referees would have played by the book, Tottenham would have been down to seven or eight players and they would’ve been looking for an excuse.
“But I didn’t give them an excuse, because my gameplan was: ‘Let them lose the title’.
Chelsea and Tottenham received record fines following the game, while Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele was banned for six games for violent conduct.
Clattenburg added: “The physical contact that went on in the Premier League – that was the theatre, that’s what people loved. They love a tackle, they don’t want it punished.”
Clattenburg left his job as a Premier League official earlier this year to become head of referees in Saudi Arabia.