Howard Webb will be in charge of English football referees by the time the Premier League resumes on Boxing Day after its six-week pause for the World Cup finals.
The new chief refereeing officer for Professional Game Match Officials will be in post from Dec 1 and will oversee the selection of match officials for the 17th round of fixtures on the bank holiday. The PGMOL managing director Mike Riley will hand over to Webb during the league’s hiatus but will continue to have some involvement until the end of the season.
Telegraph Sport revealed in June that Webb would be coming back to take over one of the most high-profile and difficult roles in English football, the head of PGMOL which is co-funded and owned by the Premier League Football League and Football Association. Webb is currently general manager of the equivalent organisation in Major League Soccer. His contract in the United States comes to an end once the season finishes there next month with the MLS Cup final on November 5.
Webb, who refereed the 2010 World Cup final as well as the Champions League final that year, will come in with a wide-ranging remit to improve standards of officiating and Video assistant referee. His appointment is part of a major push for change at PGMOL and with the FA in how it develops the referees and assistants who it hopes will eventually move up to the select group one. Webb, 51, is expected to be a more public-facing leader of the organisation than his predecessors.
He is expected to overhaul the preparation, coaching and assessment of referees and officials and try to raise the standard across the board. The Premier League clubs have thrown their weight behind the elite referee development plan which will fast-track the best officials through the pyramid much more rapidly than in the past.
Webb will be assisted in the select group one by former referee Jon Moss, who was appointed manager of the group by Riley this summer. Martin Atkinson, who also retired in the summer from on-field duties, is the select group one coach. It was another high-pressure weekend for PGMOL after criticism from both Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp for Anthony Taylor’s decisions during Liverpool’s home win over Manchester City. Klopp was sent off for his aggression towards assistant Gary Beswick.