The Premier League are launching a new programme to try to improve standard and diversity of referees

This season, Manchester United have suffered from poor refereeing decisions in domestic competitions. Just recently, there are three examples of poor decisions that led to United dropping points or being knocked out of competition.

For example, there was a clear hand ball in the build up to Middlesbrough‘s equalising goal, in a game that eventually knocked United out of the FA Cup. Yes, it’s true that United probably should have finished the match of regardless, however that does not change the fact that it was a poor decision.

In another example, United had two goals ruled out against Burnley, a game that finished as 1-1. The first goal was ruled out for Harry Maguire standing in an offside position and interfereing with play (whether he was or not is a seperate debate), and an own goal by Ben Mee ruled out for an apparent foul by Paul Pogba in the build-up – a foul which has since deemed to be an incredibly soft decision.

However, it is not just United who have suffered. Across the board, Premier League and Championship football fans, managers and players are not happy with the standard of refereeing.

According to David Ornstein of The Athletic, the Premier League have announced the creation of an “Elite Referee Development Plan” in a recent shareholders meeting.

The ERDP as an aim of establishing a new global standard of the performance and development of match officiating. They hope the new scheme will increase the standards of refereeing, but also help officials from underrepresented backgrounds become top-flight referees.

According to The Athletic, the scheme has both short and long-term objectives.

One short term objective is to ‘develop its select group of referees, while working to increase representation’.

A long term objective is to ‘modernise’ the journey that young referees take on the way to become top-flight officials, resulting in a higher and fairer standard of referees.

On the scheme, The Athletic detail that a Premier League spokesperson said: “There are many ideas being looked at as part of a draft plan to develop and enhance refereeing at the elite level.  It was initially discussed with clubs last week and we will continue to work with PGMOL and the Professional Game Board before any proposals are agreed.

This will fall on grateful ears of Premier League fans across the globe, who have been crying out for an uptake in standards of officiating for years. In 2018, not a single English referee was selected to officiate in the Russia World Cup – a damning statement for the supposed ‘best league in the world’.

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