Who assigns referees in the Premier League?

“Rules make it fun for everyone!” – this statement is always true, especially in sport. The logic of it doesn’t stop us sports fans getting all riled up when the person assigned with administering those rules makes a decision that we don’t like. Who’d be a referee hey? Well, luckily, lots of people and at the top level of sport making sure the right official is assigned to the right game is big business.

Who assigns referees in the Premier League? All English Premier League referees, assistants, 4th officials and VAR operators are assigned by a company called Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL). PGMOL is an independent company created in 2001 and owned by the English FA, The Premier League and the Football League. PGMOL are responsible for the recruitment, training, development and deployment of all professional football referees in England.

Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) have been tightly intertwined with the officiating of professional football in England since referees turned pro in 2001. The company exists solely for the purpose of ensuring England produces and uses the best referees in the world. This is important given the status of the English Premier League as the most high profile football league in the world, where Millions of pounds can rest on a short shar blow of the whistle.

What does PGMOL do?

The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) is responsible for appointing referees for Premier League matches in England.

PGMOL maintains a pool of referees who are eligible to officiate in the Premier League. These referees are carefully selected based on their performance, experience, fitness levels, and adherence to the laws of the game. These referees are known as “The Select Group”, within that elite group there are around 25 officials known as “Select Group One”. Within the officiating industry these are the best referees England has produced.

Assessment and evaluation: Referees’ performances are continuously assessed and evaluated by the PGMOL throughout the season. This includes monitoring their decision-making, accuracy, and overall match control. Referees who consistently demonstrate high levels of performance are more likely to receive Premier League appointments. In addition the better a referee performs, the more likely they are to be given the bigger, more high profile fixtures.

From the Premier League website regarding PGMOL Select Group referees:

– They meet for a training meeting fortnightly, where they perform physical and technical training sessions, and analyze match videos.

– There is a robust system for measuring Select Group performance over the season. Each Premier League match is evaluated by a former senior referee who scrutinizes every decision using the match footage and event data to measure the officials’ technical performance. Former players and managers (Match Delegates) assess the accuracy and consistency of decision-making and their management of the match.

– There is a support team which mirrors that of a football club: sports scientists, sports psychologists, performance analysts, operational assistants, physiotherapists, sprint coaches, podiatrists and vision scientists are all employed to improve referee performance.

– Technology is used as an aid too: detailed performance analysis is supported by Opta, which provides statistical data on each match.

As you can see, this elite group of the football world are very well looked after and assessed rigorously.

How does PGMOL appoint referees for Premier League games?

When assigning referees to Premier League matches, PGMOL considers various factors, including the importance of the game, the teams involved and the referees’ recent performances. PGMOL aims to assign referees who are deemed best suited for specific matches based on their experience and skills.

Referees’ availability is also a crucial factor in the appointment process. They need to be available on the match day and free from any conflicts that could potentially compromise their impartiality.

PGMOL typically follows a rotation system to ensure fairness and equal opportunities for referees. Referees are not assigned to officiate every match week, and they are given adequate rest periods to maintain their physical and mental well-being. The top Premier League officials will only officiate about 30 Premier League games a season.

Who runs PGMOL?

Former Premier League referee Mike Riley is the Managing Director of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL). Riley is responsible for overseeing the operations and management of PGMOL.

  • Referee appointments: Riley Plays a significant role in the process of appointing referees to officiate in Premier League matches, ensuring that suitable and qualified officials are selected for each game.
  • Training and development: Riley is in charge of designing and implementing the training programs and development initiatives for PGMOL referees. Including creating courses, workshops, and mentorship programs to improve the skills and knowledge of match officials across England.
  • Performance assessment: Riley is involved in assessing the performance of referees throughout the season, monitoring their decision-making, accuracy, and overall match control. This assessment helps determine referee assignments and identify areas for improvement. He will not be personally involved in the detail during the season, but designs and implements the structures and processes that make it possible.
  • Communication and liaison: As the head of the PGMOL, Riley is responsible for maintaining communication and relationships with various stakeholders in professional football, including clubs, managers, players, and other football governing bodies, such as UEFA and FIFA.
  • Rule interpretation and implementation: One of the reasons Riley is a successful leader at PGMOL is his knowledge about the laws of the game and experience implementing them as a referee himself. He would ensure that PGMOL referees are well-versed in the technical interpretation and practical  implementation of the laws of football. Consistency across all officials and matches is the holy grail.  Riley works closely with other football authorities to clarify and communicate any rule changes or updates. PGMOL takes on a leading role in this, not just in the United Kingdom, but across Europe and the world.


Life long Portsmouth Fan and have followed football since 1993. Is there a better sport on earth?

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