Former referees' boss Keith Hackett claims officiating standards in the Premier League over Christmas were "bordering on appalling". Hackett, 70, has named five current top-flight referees who should be removed at the end of the season. In addition, he believes successor Mike Riley should step down from his job. Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) has rejected Hackett's claims, stating standards have risen since Riley replaced Hackett in 2010.
Former FIFA referee Hackett (photo) claims he counted "over 20 major errors" during the Christmas period. He cited Wayne Routledge's red card during Swansea's game at QPR on 1 January, which was later overturned, as being of particular concern. "I see standards falling," he said. "Over the Christmas period it reached standards that were bordering on appalling. "Routledge received a reckless challenge. My expectation was that his opponent might receive a red card." Hackett added: "There was a pretty poor performance from Andre Marriner in the Manchester City-Everton game. First of all the failure to spot a challenge that resulted in Sergio Aguero having to go off, then a non-penalty decision. "I was with a group of FIFA referees from Nigeria who watched with amazement. Do you think I took joy in that?" Marriner is one of the five referees identified by Hackett in his blog, You Are The Ref, who in his view should finish at the end of the season. Mike Jones, Lee Mason, Chris Foy and last season's FA Cup final referee Lee Probert are the others. "You can't live on your reputation," Hackett said. "At the moment, these guys are performing well below the level." Hackett, who refereed at the European Championship and the Olympic Games in 1988 and who led PGMOL for almost six years after replacing Philip Don in March 2004, feels Riley should take responsibility. "I am criticizing very strongly," said Hackett. "If the guy is at the bottom of the league then his job is at risk. At this moment in time he [Riley] is more than bottom. "I am seeing a regression. The performances of the referees are not acceptable. He must carry the responsibility."
Information supplied to the BBC by PGMOL states that the accuracy of decision-making by referees in the Premier League is currently at an all-time high. The figures claim accuracy on major decisions was up to 95% from 94.1%, accuracy on decisions in the penalty box stood at 98%, and offsides were now 99% accurate, compared to 92% when Riley took over. PGMOL adds that delegate marks for referees have gone up every season since Riley succeeded Hackett and the latest data shows referees are being asked to do 176 high-speed runs and 50 sprints in a game - a 64% increase on five seasons ago.
Source: BBC Sports