I have raised on several occasions my concern about a lack of churn and succession planning with regard to our current group of PGMOL Premier League referees.
With only 18 referees, compared to PROreferee who supply match officials to Major League Soccer operating with 24, the risk of any one referee sustaining a long term injury will impact substantially on appointments.
The referees operating on the EPL have the oldest average age in Europe.
European Age legislation currently in operation does not allow the PGMOL to state a specific age when referees should retire.
This is in my opinion making life difficult for the PGMOL resulting in an ageing group of referees. It is compounded by the impending retirement of Martin Atkinson from the FIFA international panel in December 2017, along with Andre Marriner. The FA will not have one referee operating at the elite level and therefore Champions League games will not have an English representative in terms of officials.
Let’s hope that either Michael Oliver or Anthony Taylor, or both, are promoted to the UEFA Elite panel at the end of the year.
So how do other European countries deal with age legislation?
On the face of it, given the detail below, they are ignoring this.
BUNDESLIGA referees in Germany are expected to retire at age 47.
LIGUE ONE referees in France are expected to retire between ages 43-46 and are offered a severance pay to promote this.
LA LIGA referees in Spain operate a strict retirement age at 45.
So with the oldest average age group of referees operating on the best and most physically demanding league in the world I wonder when the PGMOL will get to grips with this problem.
The current list of active Premier League Select Group referees:
- Martin Atkinson (46 years, FIFA)
- Robert Madley (31 years, FIFA)
- Andre Marriner (46 years, FIFA)
- Jonathan Moss (46 years)
- Craig Pawson (38 years, FIFA)
- Anthony Taylor (38 years, FIFA)
- Mike Dean (49 years, ex-FIFA)
- Roger East (52 years)
- Kevin Friend (46 years)
- Mike Jones (49 years)
- Lee Mason (45 years)
- Michael Oliver (32 years, FIFA)
- Lee Probert (45 years, ex-FIFA)
- Neil Swarbrick (47 years)
- Graham Scott (47 years)
- Stuart Attwell (31 years, ex-FIFA)
- Chris Kavanagh (32 years)
- Paul Tierney (37 years)
Given the current discussions with regard to Brexit and our withdrawal, there is a possibility that age legislation might be rescinded, allowing the PGMOL to stipulate a specific retirement age and thereby easing their current problems. The gap between those who play and those who officiate is in my opinion too large.
It is restricting churn and the continuous introduction of younger officials into our group of SG1 professional referees.