Managing match officials
Since the formation of the English Premier League (EPL) in 1992 the role of the match official has changed irrevocably. Increased financial investment associated with the formation of the EPL has generated unprecedented levels of investment through domestic and international television deals, as well as sponsorship. As a consequence, the pressure that match officials find themselves under has substantially increased and this has also led to a prolonged pursuance of advancements in referee training, organisation and management all focused on the improvement of refereeing standards (Webb, 2014, 2017). Match officials have gone through a significant period of change in recent times including the professionalisation of physical, psychological, and technical training; the management of referees over geographical distances; and the increasing reliance on Information Communication Technology (ICT) (Webb, 2016a). Technological developments have irreversibly altered the scrutiny and evaluation of match officials by those within football, the media and also referee managers, with technology eventually included as a part of the on-field game itself (Webb, 2016b). Goal-line technology was introduced into the EPL for the 2013/14 season and video technology is being trialled in different countries, and was utilised in the FA Cup for the 2017/18 season. These developments are occurring amid a constantly shifting landscape which has led to the creation of a possible transfer system for match officials following a high-profile defection from the EPL attributed, at least in part, to the increasing financial rewards available to the best match officials, seemingly now irrespective of nationality. This chapter considers the management of the match official in the highly financed and increasingly professionalised environment in which they operate. Ultimately the chapter concludes with a series of policy implications and recommendations intended to increase understanding and identify areas of potential future research designed to encourage scholarship in this evolving research area.