The Premier League is the worst competition in the world for young referees to refine their skills and learn from their mistakes, former top-flight official Peter Walton has said.
Retired official Keith Hackett tweeted this week that “this is the worst group of professional refs in the life of the PGMOL [Professional Game Match Officials Limited]” and that “no accountability exists” for errors.
“The Premier League is the worst in the world for [criticism], because of the exposure they have, because of the publicity it affords, and because of the rewards on offer for successful teams and individuals,” Walton, who refereed in the Premier League from 2003 to 2012, said. “Of course, people want the best all the time and they have the best.
“However, there will be times when people make mistakes, and those are magnified in the Premier League unfortunately.”
Of the 17 Select Group One referees who have been assigned Premier League matches this season, seven have experienced fewer than 100 top-flight games, and Walton said they must be given the opportunity to get better in much the same way as players are.
“You don’t just go into Waitrose and pick a can of ready-made referee from the shelf and plop them into the Premier League,” he added. “We had a really good crop of very experienced referees not so long ago.
“What we have now is a mixture of very young, inexperienced referees and some older referees, and it’s because of that we’re seeing some mistakes happening. Those mistakes would happen anywhere in the world, but because of the freshness of our referees at the moment, we’re probably seeing a few more than we are probably used to.
“”We’ve got referees who lack a little bit of experience at the top level. We need to see that through. How do you get experience?
“You get it by exposing people to the Premier League, and that’s what the PGMOL are doing at the moment. Why do clubs invest so much in academies, in youth football?
“In the last few years the PGMOL have been investing in younger people, in Football League referees, along with the FA at grassroots levels, and it takes time for these people to come through. We’re starting to see the green shoots.”
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