Except for rare occurrences when they have a Premier League referee in charge, referees at Reading matches are not full time officials. They all have ‘day’ jobs which are not usually connected with football. This can be quite stressful. Imagine an evening match for instance; they will almost certainly have been carrying out the normal job before leaving early to make sure they get to the game in time.
One local ex-Football League assistant referee told me he always took his kit ready packed to work in case he got a late appointment phone call, can he get down to Torquay (for example) for an evening kick off – tonight. This will also mean a late arrival home and back to work tomorrow. On top of this they have an extensive training programme that is carefully monitored, but has to be done in their own time. One of the best officials I have worked with, resigned as a Football League referee, simply because he was missing his children growing up, such was the pressure and time demanded.
This is due to change next year when Select Group 2, a team of 16 referees is created, to referee games in the Championship. Select Group 1 is made up of course by the Premier League referees. The terms seem quite good; the salary I believe is £35,000 a year plus about 30 match fees. At present they only receive match fees and are on a one year contract. It will be a difficult choice for some, particularly those who are progressing in their other profession. I know one local referee has already turned the opportunity down.
Will it make the referees any better? Well that’s the intention as they will have the benefits of training and development alongside their Select Group colleagues. It is also hoped it will overcome concern about enough good referees coming through by expanding the refereeing talent pool and ensure a strong development pathway for young officials.