Former Premier League referee slams Mike Riley and the standard of Premier League referees

Keith Hackett has slammed referee’s chief Mike Riley and blamed him for the departures of several leading English referees. The former Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) managing director was speaking in the wake of the departure of Bobby Madley and questioned Riley’s role.

The PGMOL is responsible for overseeing all Premier League matches, with Riley operating as Hackett’s successor. The body announced the departure of Madley on Thursday evening, despite the 32-year-old recently being promoted to the list of FIFA officials. Hackett told Press Association Sport: “It’s on him (Riley). And I’ve got to ask why did (Mark) Clattenburg leave? Why did (Howard) Webb leave? Why did Mark Halsey leave? All early.”

The PGMOL on Thursday said Madley had “decided to relocate due to a change in his personal circumstances”. Hackett expressed disappointment at Madley’s move and suggested PGMOL, now with 17 top-tier match officials, could be forced to look abroad for referees of the desired standard. Hackett added: “A few years ago I looked very carefully, when I was the boss of PGMOL, to bring in some overseas referees. I think he (Riley) is going to have to do that.

“If any referee sustains a long-term injury, then they’re down to the bare bones. “Do we question the ability of bringing in foreign players? What is different to refereeing? “Exchange programmes exist. I’m thinking for a short-term plan, in the event someone gets injured, rather than exposing our young referees coming into the system.” It is understood utilising foreign officials is not something being considered by PGMOL. There is a secondary group of referees who could be called upon if required.

Hackett says it takes two to three years for referees to be established and believes Riley is stifling the progress of officials.

He also questioned Premier League clubs’ decision not to use VAR this season. Hackett said: “I think there is a block in the system that prevents the referees getting appointed out of the Football League and into the Premier League. And that’s down to the management of the PGMOL.”

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