Ex-refs boss Keith Hackett names five Prem referees who should be sacked

Former referees boss Keith Hackett has strongly criticised current Premier League officiating, saying five referees should be removed and calling for current general manager Mike Riley to resign.

Hackett, 70, says "the current group of professional referees is the worst that we have seen" and that he observed "over 20 major errors" during the league's fixture-heavy Christmas period.

"I see standards falling," he said. "Over the Christmas period it reached standards that were bordering on appalling."

On his blog You Are The Ref, Hackett identified Andre Marriner, Mike Jones, Lee Mason, Chris Foy and Lee Probert as referees who should lose their positions after the 2014-15 season.

"You can't live on your reputation," Hackett said. "At the moment, these guys are performing well below the level."

Appearing on BBC Radio, Hackett cited conditioning as a main reason why referees are missing major decisions.

"I don't think they're as fit as they used to be," Hackett said. "And I think their movements and positioning on the field of play is leading to the errors because they're not seeing them in the way that we're seeing them.

Professional Game Match Officials Limited rejected Hackett's claims and provided the BBC with statistics that say accuracy on major decisions are at an all-time high of 95 percent.

In 2010, Riley replaced Hackett, who said his successor needs to take responsibility.

"I am criticising very strongly," said Hackett. "If the guy is at the bottom of the league then his job is at risk. At this moment in time [Riley] is more than bottom.

"I am seeing a regression. The performances of the referees are not acceptable. He must carry the responsibility."

Hackett singled out the red card issued to Swansea's Wayne Routledge on Jan. 1 at QPR, which was later rescinded. Routledge was sent off for his reaction to a strong tackle from Karl Henry in the 86th minute of the 1-1 draw, with Henry booked for the challenge.

"The latest big game decision error was the stupid dismissal of Wayne Routledge of Swansea City who himself was on the receiving end of a reckless challenge," Hackett said. "It is unbelievable that a so-called top referee should make such a mistake."