Kevin Friend has become the latest Premier league referee to retire, causing concerns about a lack of experienced officials at the top of English football.
Friend is the latest retiree this summer, the 50-year-old taking a management role with the referees’ group, in charge of ‘Select Group Two’ referees who work in the Championship.
He joins Mike Dean, Jon Moss and Martin Atkinson in hanging up their whistles after the season ended in May, with 63 years of collective top-flight experience between them.
Kevin Friend (pictured) has become the latest experienced Premier League referee to retire
Mike Dean (pictured), Jon Moss and Martin Atkinson also hung up their whistles this summer
Each of the quartet have taken charge of an FA Cup final and plenty of big games – leading to concerns they are leaving a vacuum of refereeing experience.
Referees’ governing body PGMOL has been criticised this season for referee standards, performances, and several infamous VAR decisions, with general manager Mike Riley responding to the pressure on him by restructuring PGMOL.
Friend, Moss and Atkinson will now take up management and coaching roles – Dean could move into TV – and younger referees have been promoted into Premier League ‘Select Group 1’.
PGMOL chief Mike Riley (pictured) may have to use younger referees due to the shortfall
Tom Bramall joins the highest level this year, after Jarred Gillett, John Brooks, Michael Salisbury and Tony Harrington last year. Only Australian Gillett was regularly used in the Premier League – but all may now have to be thrown into top-flight games.
Former Premier League ref Bobby Madley, brother of Select Group 1 official Andy, will return to the Championship next season, while Scottish Bobby Madden moves across the border into English football and will work in League One and League Two.
Howard Webb, who took charge of the World Cup final in 2010, is also expected to return to a top position at PGMOL.