Are Premier League Referees Full-Time (And How Much Do Refs Earn)?

It’s not easy to be a Premier League referee. With the exception of Mike Dean, perhaps, who mostly just wants to have a laugh every game.

But for the most part, it can be a gruelling affair, with players, coaching staff and tens of thousands of bloodthirsty fans scrutinising and chastising your every move.

At least, unlike further down the pyramid, they adopt a professional status and are reasonably well-paid for their efforts.

So, how much do Premier League refs make per game? What exactly is a typical Premier League referees’ wage? And how do you become a top-tier official? All of this and more will be answered below:

Are Premier League Refs Full-Time?

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As alluded to above, yes. Premier League referees are part of the ‘Select Group’ level category in English football, though they and the Championship are the only two leagues to boast professional referees.

This hasn’t always been the case, though. Indeed, Premier League referees only turned pro in June 2001, nine years after the competition’s inception.

Every professional referee in England is on the Select Group panel, and are all appointed by the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).

And though a survey of almost 28,000 revealed in July 2019 that fans are clamouring for professional referees in Leagues One and Two, this has yet to materialise.

The current Premier League referees list is as follows:

NameMade Premier League debut in…
Martin AtkinsonSeptember 2004
Michael OliverAugust 2010
Anthony TaylorFebruary 2010
Mike DeanSeptember 2000
Kevin FriendSeptember 2009
Chris KavanaghApril 2017
Jonathan MossJanuary 2011
Paul TierneyAugust 2014
Andre MarrinerNovember 2004
Stuart AttwellAugust 2008
Craig PawsonMarch 2013
Graham ScottNovember 2014
Lee MasonFebruary 2006
David CooteApril 2018
Simon HooperAugust 2015
Andy MadleyMarch 2018
Peter BankesAugust 2019
Darren EnglandJanuary 2020
Robert JonesDecember 2019
Oliver LangfordAugust 2019
Tim RobinsonDecember 2019

How Much Do Premier League Refs Earn?

Given their professional, full-time status, a Premier League ref salary consists of a regular wage as well as match fees and expenses.

The leading referees, for example, will likely earn somewhere in the region of £42,000 per year which, when added to Premier League match fees of £1,150 on top of that, can take their total annual earnings past the £70,000 mark.

Mike Dean, for instance, refereed 29 top-flight games in 2018-19, which would equate to £33,350 in match fees.

It represents a fairly steep increase on when Premier League referees initially turned pro in 2001, when they received an annual retainer of £33,000 plus match fees of £900.

By comparison, officials in the Women’s Super League earn approximately 20 times less than the current sum in the men’s top tier, where the average annual salary equates to less than £4,000 and match fees can be as little as £120. They also receive no weekly retainer or sick, illness or childcare benefits.

Meanwhile, across the continent, many of Europe’s other ‘big’ leagues see referees on a game-by-game basis rather than annually. Spain’s La Liga provides the highest rate, with the men in middle earning up to €6,000 per match, but Germany, Italy and France also eclipse the earnings of English refs.

How to Become a Premier League Referee

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For starters, anyone older than 13 with good fitness and eyesight and begin to train to be a referee. Your first port of call will be take the FA Referees Course with your local County FA; completing this will see you become a Level 7 ref or, in the case of 14 or 15-year-olds, a youth referee.

Refs can then apply for promotions from Level 7 through to Level 4, which are earned through training, examinations on the laws of the game and through being observed at some of the matches you take charge of. In normal circumstances, you would spend at least one full season at each Level from 7 through to 4.

From the on, you can continue working your way up through the levels, though promotion in this area depends on a merit table produced by club and observer marks. To rise from Level 2A to the English Football League and beyond also involves an interview.

Above Level 1 is the Select Group 2 – their lower branch of professional referees who oversee Championship games, followed by the aforementioned Select Group – the Premier League officials. You then go on to the International FIFA List, which consists of refs who will take part in World Cup games, for instance.

Referee Levels (as provided by Wikipedia)

InternationalFIFA ListSplit into Elite Group, First Group, Second Group & Third Group
Select GroupProfessional RefereePremier League (Referee Only)
Select Group 2Professional RefereeEFL Championship (Referee Only)
Level 1National ListEFL League 1 & 2 (Referee Only)
Level 2aPanel ListNational League (full), Football League (Assistant referee) or Premier League (Select Group Assistant Referee)
Level 2bNational League North and National League South (full), National League (Assistant referee) or Football League (Assistant referee) or Premier League (Select Group Assistant Referee)
Level 3Contributory Referees, National League North and National League South (Assistant Referee) or National League (Assistant referee) or Football League (Assistant referee) or Premier League (Select Group Assistant Referee)
Level 4Supply League Referees, Contributory League Assistant Referee
Level 5Senior County Referees, Supply League Assistant Referee
Level 6County Referees, Supply League Assistant Referee
Level 7Junior Referees, Supply League Assistant Referee
Level Y(8)Youth Referee
Level 9Trainee Referee
Level 10Declared non-active Referees (back garden referee)

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