In a surprise announcement made today, the Premier League released a statement saying that Howard Webb was officially retiring as a match referee and would be appointed technical director of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).
Webb will now be responsible for overseeing the technical direction and standards that govern the on-field performance of PGMOL match officials. He will also take a public-facing role, informing and educating on refereeing matters. He will report to PGMOL General Manager Mike Riley and will join his management team.
Webb’s resignation brings to end a 25-year career in refereeing.
His last act as a match referee was during this summer’s World Cup when he officiated the Round of 16 clash between Brazil and Chile.
The 43-year-old began refereeing in 1989 and progressed through the Northern Counties and Football League to become a Select Group referee in 2003. He has officiated more than 500 Barclays Premier League and Football League matches, as well as every major domestic final.
He has also refereed in eight international tournaments, including two FIFA World Cups and two UEFA European Championships.
In 2010, Webb became the first referee to take charge of the UEFA Champions League final and the FIFA World Cup final in the same year.
Webb addressed his retirement and his new role with the PGMOL in a statement released by the Premier League:
“I am very excited to start this new chapter in my career after a wonderfully rewarding 25 years on the pitch. I have spent over a decade with the best seat in the house for Barclays Premier League matches, been lucky enough to be involved in nine UEFA and FIFA tournaments, and taken charge of the UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup finals.”
“Refereeing has given me so much and it’s important that match officials who have had the rewards remain in the game to pass on their knowledge. I also have much more to learn about the business of refereeing and the best place for me to do that is with PGMOL. It’s an incredibly positive working environment and we all have a common goal of improving refereeing.”
“Over the last five years in particular we have made huge strides in terms of our accuracy, fitness and professionalism. The current Select Group are the best referees this country has ever produced and I am thrilled that I not only get the chance to continue working with them but also the opportunity to help develop the next generation of Select Group officials.”