Number of top officials is unhealthy, says ex-ref Poll

FORMER referee Graham Poll has called for new refs’ chief Mike Riley to promote more officials to the Premier League’s roster.

Top-light matches are currently allocated to a pool of 16 elite refs. But Poll believes that officials would be under less pressure if they did not come into contact with the same teams and managers as often.

“There aren’t enough referees,” Poll said. “Referees have to return to the same ground too often. Refereeing a team seven or eight times a season is not healthy. You recently saw [Sunderland manager] Steve Bruce criticising [referee] Andre Marriner because he upset him four weeks ago by sending one player off, and then went and sent another player off.

“The first thing Mike Riley needs to do is look lower down the national list and promote more people up to be a Premier League referee. I think that would certainly help.”

Poll has also urged Riley, who this month succeeded Keith Hackett as general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials, to revive the much-maligned Respect programme.

“I think the focus has come off that,” added Poll. “And we are seeing more and more dissent from players on the pitch.”