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Ref Styles retires unexpectedly

last updated Friday 12th June 2009, 1:12 PM

Former Referee Rob Styles
Former Referee
Rob Styles
Rob Styles, the most controversial referee in the Barclays Premier League, is to quit after becoming disillusioned with the intense demands of officiating.

Referees' chief Keith Hackett and the FA will receive Styles's resignation letter informing them he is retiring early. Styles, who is also on the FIFA list, becomes the third high-profile official to walk away from football in five years following the resignations of Graham Barber in 2004 and Graham Poll in 2007.

And, while there will be plenty within the game who will not be sorry to see Styles go, his decision to end a 22-year career must surely spark a debate about the pressures referees are facing amid a backdrop of increasing scrutiny of their performances.

Styles, 45, has seen red cards he has issued overturned, he has had penalty decisions criticised, he has been forced to apologise to managers following mistakes and he has even been stripped of topflight games.

Feeling he has not received the backing of the FA and the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), Styles, who is a surveyor and whose business interests outside of football have made him a wealthy man, has reluctantly reached the conclusion that he simply does not need the aggravation associated with being a referee any longer.

He has seen his appointments to high-profile games dwindle as the questions and criticisms of his performances increased. Indeed, Styles has not been handed a 'golden game' - a match which involves two of the top four clubs or a major derby match - for 18 months.

His exit means the Premier League will have, at most, 17 select group referees - the only professional referees in England - to count on compared to 24 in June 2001. In addition. Peter Walton, 49, Steve Bennett, 48, and Alan Wiley, 49, are on extensions.

The normal retirement age is 48 but officials can carry on with a reduced workload. With Walton and Mike Riley on the shortlist to replace referees' boss Hackett - the successful applicant is expected to move to PGMOL this summer before taking over from Hackett next year - that could leave just 13 referees available next season.

Two of those are Stuart Attwell and Mike Jones, who were added to the list last season and suffered difficult starts to their careers as topflight officials. Kevin Friend has been called up for next season, and the shortage means the three new boys will need to referee more games than originally anticipated.

The pressure on the remaining 10 will be immense given they will be required to officiate virtually every week. And there will be little room for the authorities to take them out of the firing line should they make a mistake.

Source Simon Cass at Daily Mail
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