Premier League officials have really come under fire this season for a series of high-profile mistakes.
Despite the help of VAR, referees continue to make errors on a weekly basis.
Take this weekend, for instance.
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There were a host of controversial calls in the 10 matches played.
From Harry Kane’s disallowed goal to Diogo Jota’s penalty win. From Stuart Armstrong’s horror tackle to Allan Saint-Maximin being denied a penalty.
There were poor decisions everywhere you looked.
While many football fans will moan about VAR, it’s the officials operating it that’s the issue.
But which Premier League referees are the best? And which are the worst?
Well, who better to ask than Keith Hackett?
Hackett was a referee in the Football League from 1976 to 1992 before taking charge of Premier League matches from 1992 to 1994. After retiring, he was appointed general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL).
And now, in a column for the Telegraph, Hackett has not only marked every current referee out of 10 but he’s also ranked them from worst to best.
NB. John Brooks, Michael Salisbury and Tony Herrington have officiated too few matches to arrive at a judgement.
19) Simon Hooper – 4/10
Hackett says: “Sadly I believe that he is not up to the standard required of a Premier League Referee. His mobility is below the standard expected of an elite referee and it means he becomes detached from play and then makes errors. I would remove him from the list.”
18) Chris Kavanagh – 4/10
Hackett says: “Kavanagh offered such good potential when he joined the list. However, I have been disappointed with several of his performances. I do not much in the way of dynamic sprinting and he gets caught out of position, leading to too many mistakes. He has the potential but needs to improve or be removed from the list.”
17) Graham Scott – 4/10
Hackett says: “He communicates well, but at times his decision making at the elite level lacks the appropriate accuracy. This should be his last season at this level – he just has not reached the required standards of an elite referee.”
16) Peter Bankes – 4.5/10
Hackett says: “He has not demonstrated the positive form and confidence that we witness when he officiates a Championship game. He adopts a low-key approach but frankly needs to improve.”
15) Robert Jones – 4.5/10
Hackett says: “With seven appointments to date Jones is establishing his position on the panel. He has had a positive start and, like Gillett, should be appointed to more games.”
14) Jarred Gillett – 5/10
Hackett says: “This top performing Australian referee joined the list and should be appointed to more games. Four appointments to date is insufficient to build a positive reputation, and now needs a run of matches.”
13) Kevin Friend – 5/10
Hackett says: “A long serving referee on the list but is inconsistent with his decision making. Flashes too many yellow cards rather than adopting a more effective management style.”
12) David Coote – 5/10
Hackett says: “He demonstrates good potential, but needs to improve his consistency and accuracy of his decision making. To date he has 11 appointments, issuing two red cards and 53 yellows.”
11) Jonathan Moss – 5/10
Hackett says: “Experienced referee who, frankly, too often gets detached from play and then makes errors. The PGMOL regard him higher than I do by way of performances. To date he has received 15 appointments issuing 4 red and 29 yellow cards.”
10) Martin Atkinson – 5/10
Hackett says: “A loyal servant to the PGMOL but this year has not demonstrated his usual safe pair of hands. He appears to have lost some of his sprinting speed and becomes detached from play, leaving his decision-making accuracy below his usual high standard.”
9) Craig Pawson – 5/10
Hackett says: “I always expect more out of this referee and would suggest that he needs to improve his movement around the field of play. The process of a referee is to see, recognise, think and act – which is what he needs to work on. He lets himself down through his positioning, although I have seen little signs of improvement.”
8) Mike Dean – 5.5/10
Hackett says: “He has served the competition well but would suggest that there is a dip in his form and I would recommend that he retire at the end of the season when he will turn 54. Dean has not issued a red card and his 40 yellow cards is a low average for him.”
7) Stuart Attwell – 5.5/10
Hackett says: “He is one of the fittest and mobile referees on the panel. He is gaining in confidence but still prone to making errors. In the season to date he has received 11 appointments, issuing one red and 37 yellow cards.”
6) Andy Madley – 6/10
Hackett says: “This referee has established himself quickly and referees with confidence and maturity. His no-nonsense approach has gained him respect and I expect him to continue to improve. Would like to see him work on his sprinting speed. He has been given eight appointments and should be given a run of regular games to establish his position on the list.”
5) Andre Marriner – 6.5/10
Hackett says: “Marriner has gained a reputation of being a safe pair of hands, but sadly age is catching up with him and he struggles to apply a dynamic sprint. This is when errors can occur. The players trust and respect him and his low-key approach is appreciated by stakeholders in the game. He could be one of those considering retirement at the end of the season.”
4) Paul Tierney – 7/10
Hackett says: “Tierney is an experienced referee but not showing the form that he has demonstrated in previous seasons. He has lost some of his top sprinting speed and this is leaving him detached from play and vulnerable to error.
“He is usually a first-class decision maker but I feel that with recent performances he is showing some hesitancy on the big decisions. This could be a slight drop in confidence.”
3) Darren England – 7/10
Hackett says: “I have been impressed with this referee since his introduction into the Select Group 1 referees. His physical work-rate is first class and with every game he is gaining in confidence and making good decisions. He is under-utilised by the PGMOL having only received 9 Premier League appointments.
2) Anthony Taylor – 7.5/10
Hackett says: “Second English referee nominated for Qatar this year and has also officiated 15 Premier League games. He is very fit and mobile but there are times when I would like him to relax a little and manage players more effectively. This would help to reduce his average yellow cards per game as he has made 61 bookings. Smile Anthony, you are a good referee.”
1) Michael Oliver – 8/10
Hackett says: “Nominated by FIFA for the 2022 World Cup, he has shown a high level of decision-making accuracy this season. The foundation of his success and the reason why at Week 20 of the Premier League season he has received 15 referee appointments in total.
“He has matured and players and managers trust and respect his approach when he is in the middle. The foundation of his success is his fitness level and the consistency of getting decisions correct.”