Tag Archives: Select Group

Referees in the Middle: Graham Scott

Premier League Career: 2014-PRESENT

First Premier League Match: Burnley 1-1 Aston Villa (29 November 2014)

Graham Scott is one of the current breed of Premier League officials and he is now into his sixth season as a top-flight official. Educated at Abingdon School in his early life, Scott has actually been a referee now for over 20 years and has worked hard to make his way onto the Select Group of officials.

In his youth days, Graham was an amateur footballer and played as a goalkeeper for Abingdon Town FC. He was forced to retire from playing the game at the age of 27 after a persistent back injury which was threatening longer-term damage. So, having to give up the dream of playing the game, Scott elected to officiate and therefore, keep his ambition of being involved in the English top-flight alive.

Beginning out in the lower leagues like many of his peers, Scott took charge of his first match in 1997 but initially, seemed reluctant to progress up the referees’ ladder. Players though like his approach to the game and he is another official who will do what he can to allow matches to flow rather than break them up and book players for every small foul that takes place in a match.

Joining the National List of referees in 2008, he took charge of a host of important games in the Football League and in November 2014, he refereed his first Premier League match at Turf Moor between Burnley and Aston Villa. He awarded Burnley a late penalty in the game, converted by Danny Ings for the match to end in a 1-1 draw.

On the eve of the 2015-2016 Premier League season, Graham Scott earned promotion to the Select Group, replacing Chris Foy who had retired at the end of the previous campaign. He has had to battle hard to keep his place, especially at the end of the 2016-2017 season when he took charge of only eight Premier League matches. Former official Keith Hackett has been critical in the past of his promotion but Scott enjoyed a rise through the ranks in 2017-2018, taking charge of 20 Premier League matches and a League Cup semi-final tie between Bristol City and Manchester City.

As of the March 2019 international break, Scott has taken control of 15 games this season, shown 35 yellow cards and only one red card this season which was to Etienne Capoue of Watford in their 2-0 defeat to Leicester City in December. Watford appealed the dismissal but this was rejected by the FA Commission. He has shown six red cards so far in his 48-game Premier League career. The first recipient of a dismissal from Scott was Swansea City right-back Kyle Naughton who was red-carded in the first half of their 4-2 home defeat by Sunderland in January 2016. When not required for Premier League duty, he still takes control of his fair share of high-profile games in the SkyBet EFL Championship.

Strict on cutting out dissent, diving and time-wasting, Graham Scott is rising through the ranks and proving any doubters of his ability wrong. He has the potential to become a mainstay of Premier League refereeing for the next several seasons.

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Referees in the Middle: Martin Atkinson

Premier League Career: 2005-PRESENT

First Premier League Match: Manchester City 3-0 Birmingham City (20 April 2005)

Martin Atkinson is one of the leading officials in today’s batch of Premier League referees. Since Howard Webb’s retirement, Atkinson, along with Michael Oliver has often been seen as setting the standard for officiating which is why he is highly regarded by his fellow peers.

Born in Bradford, Atkinson is a member of the West Riding County Football Association and he made his first appearance as an official in the Football League as an assistant referee in 1995. At this point, refereeing was already a major part of his background. He was already officiating in local games at the relatively early age of just 16, largely because the local team did not have a referee to look after hard-fought matches.

At the turn of the millennium, Atkinson was promoted to the Select Group of assistant referees and by December 2002, he was often the man in the middle in highly-charged games in the Football Conference. At the start of the 2003-2004 season, he joined the National List of referees and showed he wasn’t one of those officials who feel that waving cards around on a regular basis will calm down the temperature levels in an encounter that could get out of control. This was highlighted further by him having the distinction of not sending off any player from the field of play between August 2004 and October 2005.

Martin received promotion to the list of Select Group Referees in 2005 and he has since refereed a number of notable matches, including the finals of the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Europa League. His first Premier League game came on 20th April 2005, taking charge of the Manchester City vs. Birmingham City fixture at Eastlands. He booked one player and awarded the home side a penalty kick, converted by Antoine Sibierski in the 86th minute in Manchester City’s 3-0 win.

During the three seasons between 2003 and 2006, Atkinson issued only eight red cards in 102 matches which was an average of less than 0.08 per game. The first player to receive a red card from Atkinson in a Premier League match was Darren Moore. The defender was dismissed before half-time in West Bromwich Albion’s 1-0 away win at Wigan Athletic in January 2006 for two yellow cards. 12 years later, Moore would get his chance as manager of the Baggies.

His first major final was the 2006 FA Community Shield at The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Liverpool FC defeated Chelsea 2-1. Two years later, he took charge of the FA Trophy final at Wembley Stadium which was between Ebbsfleet United and Torquay United. Atkinson’s most successful season came back in 2009-2010, when he took control of 48 matches across the major English divisions. That remains his highest tally of appointments to-date.

The 2010-2011 season started with some controversy for Martin. In a thrilling encounter between Everton and Manchester United in September 2010, the home side scored twice in stoppage-time to make the score 3-3. Whilst Everton streamed forward in their pursuit of a winner, Atkinson blew the whistle for full-time and David Moyes was incensed. The FA sided with Moyes and handed Atkinson a one-week demotion to the role of fourth official. It was a minor blemish on his record.

Later that season, he got the FA Cup final which saw Manchester City beat Stoke City 1-0 to end their trophy drought. It wasn’t the most enthralling of contests but Atkinson controlled the game fantastically well and only brandished the yellow card twice throughout – both to Stoke players. He was a lucky omen in finals for Manchester City because three years later, he took charge of their League Cup final victory over Sunderland.

Appointed to the list of FIFA referees in 2006, Martin took charge of the 2015 UEFA Europa League final which was one of the many recent attempts that have seen Sevilla take the trophy home with them after winning 3-2 against Dnipro. He’s been a regular on the UEFA circuit since the 2008-2009 season. He was fourth official to Webb for the 2010 UEFA Champions League final in Madrid and has often been used in major knockout matches.

In international football, he went to EURO 2012 as an additional assistant referee in a team where Webb was once again the central referee. He stepped out of the limelight for the 2016 European Championships, taking charge of Germany’s 2-0 victory over Ukraine in the group stages. However, he missed out on the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia after FIFA elected to overlook English officials at the world’s greatest international competition for the first time since 1938.

Atkinson is still seen as one of the best in this country but even he can have difficult days. He took charge of the April 2018 Manchester Derby at The Etihad Stadium where he handed out nine yellow cards and struggled to control the match between the two Manchester rivals. He also ignored claims for a penalty for the home side after Ashley Young caught Sergio Aguero with a fairly wild challenge. His performance was severely criticised by former Premier League official Keith Hackett who stated: “If you want proof of why no English referee will be represented at this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia, look no further than Martin Atkinson’s performance at The Etihad.”

However, Martin Atkinson will remain one of the best officials in the current game for some time to come. Everyone will have their critics but 99% of the time, he often allows games to flow and therefore, the quality is better because of it.

Referees in the Middle: Jon Moss

Premier League Career: 2011-PRESENT

First Premier League Match: Blackpool 1-2 Birmingham City (4 January 2011)

Jon Moss was promoted to the Select Group of Referees in 2011. He has often been in the firing line since with football supporters across the country. Moss is one of those officials who will have some great games but is probably going to divide general opinion on some of the key decisions that can affect the course of crucial matches throughout any given season.

Although he is now based in Horsforth, West Yorkshire, Moss was born in Sunderland and grew up in the North East. He is a member of the West Riding County Football Association. He grew up as an avid footballer and won a football scholarship at Central Connecticut State University in the United States. However, he completed his studies with a degree in physical education and teaching at the University of Leeds.

Playing junior football at academy level, Moss admitted in a 2015 interview: “I was a competitive midfield player and I liked to tackle. Sometimes you mistime a tackle and you get the attention of the referee – but I was always polite!”

He played in the juniors at his hometown club Sunderland and then for Millwall. However, his studies meant he stopped playing as travelling to London became too much of an interference. It was during his A-level studies that Jon began to focus more on refereeing, taking courses to enhance his training and development. He fully qualified as a referee way back in 1988. However, it wasn’t until just before the end of the 20th century that he elected to forget his dream of playing the game and concentrated on refereeing it instead.

After progressing through the Northern Counties East League and Northern Premier League, he reached the National Group of assistant referees in 2003. It was from this point that progress started to gain momentum. Appointed to referee the 2005 Conference play-off final between Stevenage and Carlisle United, Jon was then promoted to the National Group of Referees who take charge of the three divisions in the Football League. His first game at this level was a League Two match between Shrewsbury Town and Rochdale.

Moss had four years of experience at this level before being appointed to a Premier League game for the first time. The match was between Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa in December 2010. However, a deluge of snow and freezing temperatures in the week before Christmas led to the match being one of seven Premier League postponements across the weekend. Jon had to wait a fortnight for his big break before being selected for Birmingham City’s visit to Blackpool in January 2011. After this audition, he was added to the Select Group in-time for the start of the 2011-2012 season alongside Neil Swarbrick.

It was only his third Premier League match when he handed out his first red card. That went to the late Steve Gohouri who was dismissed for two yellow cards in Wigan Athletic’s 2-1 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in September 2011. Three years later, he awarded no fewer than four spot-kicks during Manchester City’s 4-1 success over Spurs, also sending off Federico Fazio in the same match. That remains a record for most spot-kicks to be awarded in a Premier League game. In fact, he handed out eight red cards in-total in the 2014-2015 season and as of the November 2018 international break, he had taken charge of 181 matches, handing out 623 yellow cards at an average of 3.44 cautions per game.

28 times the red card has come out of his back pocket. Among those to be dismissed in high-profile matches were Jamie Vardy for simulation in Leicester’s feisty 2-2 draw with West Ham United in April 2016 and Sadio Mane for a dangerous challenge on Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson during an encounter at The Etihad Stadium in September 2017 which Pep Guardiola’s side went on to win 5-0.

In 2015, Moss was the referee for Arsenal’s 4-0 victory over Aston Villa in the FA Cup final. Jon Moss might not be liked by everyone within the game but as a referee, you have to be strong and not show any weakness in making key decisions. He is not shy of being forced to make these tough judgements, even if that means he sometimes can make the headlines more than the players.

Referees in the Middle: Kevin Friend

Premier League Career: 2009-PRESENT

First Premier League Match: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Fulham (20 September 2009)

Kevin Friend started refereeing at the age of 14 in his home county of Leicestershire. A member of the Leicestershire and Rutland County Football Association, Friend officiated in the Leicestershire Senior League before being promoted to the National List of Referees.

In the summer of 2009, his consistent performances in the Football League led to him earning a promotion to the list of Select Group Referees. This led to him being well-placed for Premier League appointments. His first fixture in the top-flight came in September 2009, taking control of Wolverhampton Wanderers’ 2-1 home win over Fulham. It wasn’t the hardest match to take charge of. He showed just two yellow cards at Molineux.

Albanian captain Lorik Cana was the unfortunate first recipient of a red card from Kevin Friend. He received his marching orders in Sunderland’s 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa in December 2009 for two bookable offences.

Friend has been an ever-present in the Premier League since, although he did controversially send-off Sunderland defender Wes Brown in a match away at Stoke City in 2013. Everyone seemed startled at this decision and the FA later rescinded the dismissal following an appeal by the Black Cats.

In 2016, it was revealed that he was a supporter of Leicester City. This ruled him out of being appointed to a clash involved Leicester’s main title challengers Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City in April of that year. In March 2017, he was criticised for his handling of a game at Old Trafford between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth. Both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings were later charged with violent conduct by the FA and retrospectively banned. Ibrahimovic was found guilty of using an elbow into Mings’ face, only moments after Mings was seen to have stamped on Zlatan’s head. Both incidents were missed in the match. 

Kevin hasn’t had the honour yet of the FA Cup final but he did take charge of the 2013 League Cup final between Swansea City and Bradford City, dismissing Bradford goalkeeper Matt Duke for a professional foul during the final. Having got the League Cup and also 2012 FA Community Shield final on his CV, Friend will be hoping he can get more top-line appointments in the future.

Referees in the Middle: Michael Oliver

Premier League Career: 2010-PRESENT

First Premier League Match: Birmingham City 2-1 Blackburn Rovers (21 August 2010)

Michael Oliver is one of the leading referees now in the Premier League. Respected by many of today’s professional footballers, Oliver is often considered for the top matches and has come a long way. Refereeing has been a big part of his family. His father Clive introduced him into the referee world at the age of just 14.

Progressing swiftly through the ranks, he reached the National List in 2007 and became the youngest football referee to officiate at Wembley Stadium when he took charge of the 2007 Conference National play-off final.

Two years later, the Oliver family enjoyed a double success on play-off final weekend. Clive Oliver took charge of the League Two play-off final and his son was in-charge of the League One final a day later. In January 2010, he was appointed to a Premier League match for the first time when Fulham were due to play Portsmouth at Craven Cottage. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be able to fulfil the commitment. The snow and freezing temperatures that gripped the country at the start of 2010 meant the game was postponed. Unluckily for him, an ankle operation meant he couldn’t be appointed to the rearranged fixture. Michael would have to wait a little longer for his Premier League opportunity.

In August 2010, he was promoted to the Select Group and he finally got his big break in the top-flight on the second weekend of the season. Appointed to Birmingham City vs. Blackburn Rovers, he broke Stuart Attwell’s record to become the youngest-ever Premier League referee, aged just 25 years and 182 days.

His first red cards in the Premier League came in November 2010 when Blackpool beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1. Two West Brom players, Pablo Ibanez and Gonzalo Jara were both given straight red cards in the contest by Oliver. Two years later, he was appointed fourth official for the 2013 League Cup final at Wembley Stadium and he got the FA Cup semi-final at the national stadium between Millwall and Wigan Athletic in April 2013.

Oliver has made the major breakthrough too on the European scene. He is a regular English official in the UEFA Champions League. In April 2018, his biggest test came in the closing stages of the quarter-final, second leg between Real Madrid and Juventus at the Bernabeu. Juventus had lost the first leg on home soil 3-0 but had incredibly turned the game around in the second leg. Extra time beckoned but the Italian champions were to be denied in the third minute of injury-time. Medhi Benatia was adjudged to have fouled Lucas Vazquez in the penalty area. Several Juventus players confronted Oliver, including departing goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Buffon’s dissent saw him awarded a red card. Cristiano Ronaldo tucked away the penalty and it was the reigning European champions who progressed to the semi-finals.

Several days later, the police investigated threatening text messages that were sent to Oliver’s wife. He received verbal abuse too in the aftermath. Buffon was charged by UEFA over some discriminatory post-match comments that led to a three-match ban.

It was a tough and challenging experience but he stayed strong and received the appointment to the 2018 Emirates FA Cup final between Chelsea and Manchester United. He correctly awarded a penalty against Phil Jones in the first half which Eden Hazard converted and Chelsea won the match 1-0.

Referees in the Middle: Howard Webb

Premier League Career: 2003-2014

First Premier League Match: Fulham 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers (18 October 2003)

Final Premier League Match: Hull City 0-2 Everton (11 May 2014)

Rotherham United supporter Howard Webb has taken charge of the biggest match an official can ever get – the World Cup final. His experience of the 2010 final in Soccer City between Netherlands and Spain turned into a bit of a nightmare as a bitty and sour encounter brewed into a card festival record for the World Cup final.

However, Webb deserved his opportunity after an excellent tournament before the Johannesburg final and he was the leading official for 11 seasons in the Premier League before deciding to call it a day at the end of the 2013-2014 season.

Refereeing was in Webb’s blood from an early age. His father had been a ref for 35 years, so it was something that was very natural for him. He first took up the whistle in the local leagues in 1989. He was appointed as a Football League assistant referee seven years later, juggling the weekend work with a regular role as a police officer with South Yorkshire police.

In 2000, he made the National List and was promoted to the Select Group of officials three years later. His first match in the top-flight was a fairy uneventful goalless draw in October 2003 between Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

A month later, he handed out his first red card, again in a 0-0 game between Bolton Wanderers and Southampton. Saints defender Michael Svensson was the unlucky culprit. In 2008-2009, Webb issued his highest proportion of red cards in his Premier League career – sending six players off in 38 games. Among his victims in terms of dismissals in that season were Nemanja Vidic at Anfield and Cristiano Ronaldo at The City of Manchester Stadium.

Webb was in the middle for two Chelsea cup final victories in the first decade of the new millennium. He took charge of the Blues 2-1 victory over Everton in the 2009 FA Cup final and two years earlier, the 2-1 League Cup final success against London rivals Arsenal. An ugly brawl on the eve of the final whistle saw both managers end up on the pitch trying to calm the melee down which led to red cards for Emmanuel Adebayor, John Obi Mikel and Kolo Toure.

The peak of Webb’s career was 2010. He took charge of the UEFA Champions League final in Madrid when two Diego Milito goals helped Inter Milan beat Bayern Munich 2-0 in the Madrid showpiece. He then went to South Africa as England’s representative at the World Cup finals and was praised for his control of several matches in the group stage.

This won him the ultimate reward – taking charge of the World Cup final in Johannesburg between Spain and the Netherlands. It should have been the dream occasion but it turned into a nightmare. The Dutch’s reckless style of play meant the game simply did not flow at all and despite his best efforts, he couldn’t allow any rhythm into the match. 14 yellow cards were dished out in the 120 minutes with Jonny Heitinga sent off in extra-time for two bookable offences. In Webb’s defence, the only huge mistake he made was not to send Nigel de Jong off for a kung-fu challenge on Xabi Alonso in the first half.

He got plenty of support afterwards. BBC pundit Alan Hansen said: “Webb tried to make the game flow but on this occasion he was left with no choice.”  Keith Hackett agreed, saying: “Anyone who criticises the officials lacks the knowledge and experience of someone who has refereed.”

He also was a representative at the 2008 and 2012 European Championships and the World Cup finals in 2014.

In August 2014, Howard Webb elected to retire from refereeing, three months after taking charge of his final top-flight match which was a 2-0 victory for Everton away at Hull City on the final day of the previous season.

Since then, he has been a video analyst for BT Sport, held a role as director of referees for the Saudi Arabian Football Federation and in March 2017, took a role as Manager of VAR operations for the MLS in the United States.

When you consider who the best referee was in the first 25 years of Premier League football, Howard Webb has to be near the top of the list.

Referees in the Middle: Lee Probert

Premier League Career: 2007-PRESENT

First Premier League Match: Sheffield United 1-1 Portsmouth (13 January 2007)

As of Boxing Day 2017, Lee Probert has taken charge of 157 Premier League matches and been a top-flight referee for a decade. He has shown nearly 30 red cards in that time but his first dismissal wasn’t until his fourth season at this level when two players were dismissed in a bruising encounter between Everton and Aston Villa in October 2009. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Carlos Cuellar were both shown red in the closing stages of the 1-1 draw that afternoon at Goodison Park.

Probert was born in South Gloucestershire but he is associated with the Wiltshire Football Association and is based there nowadays. He started refereeing in the local leagues and south tier of the Conference in 1986 and it was a slow start in terms of progress. Lee didn’t become a Football League referee until 2003.

His first Premier League appointment was in January 2007 as Sheffield United and Portsmouth played out a 1-1 draw. He did very well in the match and in the summer of 2007, Probert was promoted to the Select Group, meaning he would take control of more games in the Premier League.

One of his most controversial incidents occurred as a fourth official in 2009 when Manchester United played Arsenal at Old Trafford. The Gunners’ were denied a late goal by an offside flag which would have earned them a point. In his sheer frustration, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger kicked a water bottle and Probert reported the incident to the referee on the day, Mike Dean. Dean sent Wenger to the stands.

LMA Chief Richard Bevan was unimpressed, saying two days later: “Lee Probert totally failed to manage the situation and created a needless pressure point taking the focus away from the pitch in a big event with only a minute to go.”

Probert was censured and an apology was sent to Wenger by the Premier League.

Five years later, he was given the FA Cup final between the Gunners’ and Hull City which Arsenal won 3-2 after extra-time to end their nine-year trophy famine.

A leg injury meant he missed the entire 2015-2016 season and despite returning to the middle in August 2016, he didn’t take charge of another game in the top-flight until Watford’s 1-0 victory over Sunderland in April 2017. That was his first Premier League appointment in nearly two years.

He has been more of a regular figure this season and as he is 45 at the moment, Lee Probert should remain a top-flight referee for many more campaigns going forwards.

Referees in the Middle: Keith Stroud

Premier League Career: 2007-2009, 2015-

First Premier League Match: Blackburn Rovers 2-0 Sunderland (15 February 2006)

Last Premier League Match (To-date): Watford 2-0 West Ham United (31 October 2015)

Hampshire resident Keith Stroud has only taken charge of 17 Premier League matches in his career. Like Stuart Attwell, Stroud will be hoping to follow his path and make his way back to the Select Group of Referees who take charge of officiating top-flight matches.

Luton Town supporter Stroud first took up refereeing in 1988 and was promoted from the non-league to the National List 16 years later. In that time, he had experience as an assistant referee at the 2002 Division Three playoff final between Cheltenham Town and Rushden & Diamonds. He also was an assistant in the 2003 FA Cup final which was refereed by Graham Barber when Arsenal defeated Southampton 1-0.

Stroud’s first match outside of Conference Football was in August 2004; a League Two encounter between Cheltenham Town and Scunthorpe United at Whaddon Road. After controlling several playoff matches in the Football League, he was given the opportunity to officiate in the top-flight. His first game was in February 2006 when Blackburn Rovers beat Sunderland 2-0 at Ewood Park. The most games Stroud has done in a Premier League season was seven in the 2007-2008 season.

In 2009, it was confirmed that Stroud along with Steve Tanner had been dropped from the Select Group of officials. However, he appealed his case with support from the workers’ union, Unison. It was found out that monthly reviews on the pair’s performances had not been carried out. Therefore, their exclusions had been flawed.

Since then though, Stroud has only taken charge of three top-flight matches. His last game was in October 2015, handing out his first Premier League red card to West Ham’s James Collins in the match away to Watford.

Has Keith Stroud already had the final whistle on his Premier League career? He is still in the Football League today and has got to keep working hard. His opportunity might arise again sometime soon.

Referees in the Middle: Stuart Attwell

Premier League Career: 2008-2010, 2016-

First Premier League Match: Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Hull City (23 August 2008)

Nuneaton-born referee Stuart Attwell has worked hard throughout his refereeing career and is now among the Premier League referees list for a second time after a spell back in the Football League.

Starting out in the non-league ranks, Attwell’s first Football League appointment came in 2007 for a fixture in League Two between Hereford United and Rotherham United.

His first full Football League campaign impressed many of his peers and observers and at the age of 25, he became the youngest-ever official to referee a Premier League match when Blackburn Rovers drew 1-1 with newly-promoted Hull City in August 2008. This record has since been broken by Michael Oliver but it was a great accomplishment in such a short space of time.

A year later, he was added to the international referees’ roster and has taken charge of international friendlies, UEFA Champions League qualifiers and a group stage game involving Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Europa League.

Controversy has followed Attwell around occasionally – as it has for many referees over the years. In 2008, he and one of his assistants gave Reading an infamous “ghost goal” in a Championship match at Vicarage Road against Watford. His linesman on the day, Nigel Bannister mistakenly flagged for a Reading goal when he should have given a corner kick only. The bizarre incident left him off-duty for the following weekend.

In September 2010, another strange incident occurred in a Premier League game between Liverpool FC and Sunderland. Sunderland had a defensive free-kick which Michael Turner rolled back to Simon Mignolet. Believing the Black Cats had taken the free-kick; an instinctive Fernando Torres ran onto the loose ball, stopped to check with the officials that it was okay to play on and then rolled the ball into Dirk Kuyt’s path for an easy tap-in. The goal was given, much to the condemnation of the Sunderland players and management.

In February 2012, Attwell was dropped from the Select Group list. Mike Riley admitted: “Throughout his career in the Select Group, Stuart has demonstrated great courage and mental strength in responding to the challenges that he has faced. Stuart has a high level of maturity and responsibility and I’m convinced that he has a long-term future as a referee at the very highest level.”

His last Premier League appointment was a New Years’ Day 2012 encounter between West Bromwich Albion and Everton and was seen as a strange decision for the change to happen mid-season. Stuart wouldn’t referee another top-flight match until November 2014 when the Baggies’ won a fixture away at Leicester City.

Sporadic Premier League appointments would follow but Attwell’s hard work was rewarded with a return to the Select Group list in time for the 2016-2017 campaign. His return came for Hull’s 2-0 win at Swansea City in August 2016; their only away Premier League success of the season. Attwell would referee another 10 top-flight games during the season. Still in his mid-30s and nearly 80 matches under his belt, he looks set to fulfil what Riley said about him and have a long-term future as a man in the middle at the highest level.