For the first time in English football, the EFL and PGMOL are pleased to announce that referees in the Sky Bet Championship will now be employed on a full time basis alongside helping support the development of refereeing standards across the rest of the Sky Bet EFL.
A vigorous recruitment process was put in place to identify the 18 referees and 36 assistants that would fill the vacant positions in what will be known as Select Group 2.
Financially supported by all 24 Championship clubs, the Select Group 2 programme will enable officials to meet regularly, share learning and improve consistency on the pitch.
This investment to support development of Match Officials in the EFL follows the launch of a new joint initiative adopted across English football that aims to promote positive behaviour across the game.
The recruitment process started with a fitness test before the PGMOL assessed all the referees with four different tasks. The tasks involved match preparation ability, possible scenarios ahead of kick-off, a formal interview and finally, communication and engagement with a first team manager after a game.
The scores from their assessment days counted as 50% of their overall mark, with the remaining 50% comprised on their performance as an official in the Championship over the past three seasons.
EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey explained the benefits of Select Group 2: He said: “The job of a referee has always been an unforgiving one and today, more than at any other point in the history of our competitions, they face increasing scrutiny over how they perform and the split second decisions they make. Therefore, there has to be a collective responsibility between The EFL and PGMOL to ensure we prepare our officials in the most appropriate way. The introduction of Select Group 2 will do this as we continue to look at ways of improving officiating standards.
“The expectations that were being placed on some our officials were exceptionally unfair, given the fact they may have been holding down a demanding full-time job during the week and then being asked to referee a game at the weekend that could have significant consequences for managers, players and supporters. Now, they will have the opportunity to meet regularly, share learnings and devote more time to their profession that will only serve to improve consistency on the pitch.”
Former Premier League official Mike Riley added by saying that Select Group 2 is a step forward for match officiating in the EFL.
“Those officials selected to form SG2 have been put through one of the most intensive and challenging evaluations in PGMOL history,” admitted Riley.
“The continued support from the EFL will allow us to improve our development programme and referees will now be able to meet every two weeks during the season, which follows the successful model implemented in the Premier League. Previously, this simply was not possible as our referees juggled the demands of their jobs with their passion for refereeing.”
Alongside the announcement of Select Group 2, the EFL has clarified its referee and assistant appointment policy for season 2016/17. The restrictions mean match officials will not be eligible to participate in certain games if they:
• Reside in the same town or city as either club;
• Have played for any of the participating clubs at youth, under-21 (reserve) or senior level;
• Take an active interest in a club (season/match ticket currently or previously);
• Have personal connections with a participating club.