Premier League football referees can make pretty good money, especially when you remember they were amateurs no more than 15 years ago. As we get ready for the new season, let’s see how the men in black stay out of the red:
Amateurs up to 2001
It’s hard to believe that football referees in England were still amateur as recently as 2001, when the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOB) was created.
This board contains between 15 and 20 referees who take charge of a varying amount of matches each season, all depending on how well they perform.
When professional contracts were introduced a few eyes were bulging at the idea of soccer referees earning a decent salary. And strictly speaking, in foreign leagues like the French Ligue 1 football refs are still amateur, even though they get a handsome fee of £2,650 a game there.
So How Much Do PL Refs Earn?
In the Premier League PGMOB members get an annual retainer of between £38,500 and £42,000 depending on how much experience they’ve got.
On top of that football refs get a fee of £1,150 a match. The PGMOB keeps a close eye on their members’ performance, and this dictates the amount of matches a ref is awarded each season.
Typically this will be anywhere between 10 and 35.
What Does That Come to?
So the average football ref in the Premier League will walk away with about £70,000 a year. The really successful football refs like Mark Clattenburg will do a fair bit better than that thanks to Champions League and international engagements.
Clattenburg’s annual earnings will be well over £100,000, given that World Cup referees were paid around £35,000 a head at the World Cup in 2014.
Less Cushy for Championship Football Refs
If a football referee falls out of favour with the PGMOB he’s got to work on a freelance basis again. Just one division below, life starts to get a lot tougher.
The Championship has no annual retainer and referees get around £600 a match, balancing football with other another profession.
And for Assistants
Despite having to make some big calls, these are part-timers. A Premier League assistant referee will get £475 a match, much less than his or her European equivalent.
In Spain an assistant will take home £1550 a match, and linesmen and women in Germany and Italy get a similar amount.
When Does It All End?
So if you’re good and don’t mind working in one of the world’s most high-pressure jobs you can make a decent salary as a football ref. The only problem is that you won’t be part of the PGMOB until you’re in your late-20s.
In 2015-16 Robert Madley and Michael Oliver were the babies at 29. And few make it past 50: Chris Foy was the oldest last season at 52. So it’s not the longest career.