PNE policed by new select group of refs
Preston's players will be under the watchful eye of a new select group of referees and assistants this season.
Like the Premier League, officials for the Championship are to be full-time.
The Football League and Professional Game Match Officials Board have employed 18 referees and 36 assistants to a Select Group 2 programme.
It is hoped that having the officials signed-up on a full-time basis will help to improve standards.
North End’s visit to Reading on Saturday will be refereed by Hampshire official Andy Davies, who is part of the new select group.
Three of their pre-season friendlies have had new full-time referees in charge.
Carnforth’s Jeremy Simpson was in the middle for PNE’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City at Deepdale last month.
Oliver Langford from the West Midlands, oversaw the 3-1 win at Oldham.
Then last Saturday, Andy Madley refereed Preston’s goalless draw with Bolton at the Macron Stadium.
It was Mr Madley who was in charge for PNE’s 4-0 win over Swindon at Wembley in the 2015 League One play-off final.
The Yorkshireman, who was a former academy player at Huddersfield before injury stopped him playing, also took charge of Preston’s Capital One Cup victory against Blackpool three years ago.
Shaun Harvey, the league’s chief executive, said: “The job of a referee has always been an unforgiving one.
“Now, more than at any other point in the history of our competitions, they face increasing scrutiny over how they perform and the split second decisions they make.
“ Therefore, there has to be a collective responsibility to ensure we prepare our officials in the most appropriate way. The introduction of Select Group 2 will do this as we continue to look at ways of improving officiating standards.
“The expectations that were being placed on some our officials were exceptionally unfair, given the fact they may have been holding down a demanding full-time job during the week and then being asked to referee a game at the weekend that could have significant consequences for managers, players and supporters.
“Now, they will have the opportunity to meet regularly, share learnings and devote more time to their profession that will only serve to improve consistency on the pitch.”
The other referees in Select Group 2 are: James Adcock, Peter Bankes, Darren Bond, David Coote, Scott Duncan, Geoff Eltringham, Simon Hooper, Tony Harrington, Chris Kavanagh, James Linington, Steve martin, Tom Robinson, Keith Stroud and Andy Woolmer.
Former Premier League ref Mike Riley said: “Those officials selected to form SG2 have been put through one of the intensive and challenging evaluations in PGMOL history.
“The referees will now be able to meet every two weeks during the season, which follows the successful model in the Premier League.
“Previously, this simply was not possible as our referees juggled the demands of their jobs with their passion for refereeing.”
The SG2 referees had to meet four criteria, including fitness, and their performance in the Championship over the last three years was assessed.