Premier League referees are improving, insists Mike Riley

Head of English referees Mike Riley has defended officials following the recent criticism of decision making in the Premier League.

Earlier this month, former referees boss Keith Hackett hit out at current Premier League officiating, saying five referees should be removed and calling for current general manager Riley to resign.

There was further criticism at the weekend when a late goal from Jan Vertonghen was ruled out for offside, despite the Tottenham defender being inside his own half when receiving the ball against Sunderland.

But Riley, who is general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), has told The Times: "Keith's entitled to his opinion.

"Everyone has one. But Keith's description is not something I recognise of the organisation, the standards and what these officials achieve. It's not something that the people I engage with -- the PFA, LMA, FA -- recognise. None of the data bears that out.

"You always look back and think 'wasn't life good then.' But my view is that every generation is improving on the last. Go back over the last five years, whether we judge the data from evaluation [by former referees] or the Premier League delegates, it all suggests year on year the group have improved by on-field standards.

"We also know it gets more demanding, so we have to keep improving. Expectations were completely different before. There wasn't the camera coverage or scrutiny. People forgave players more mistakes than now and forgave referees more mistakes."

The Dutch Football Association (KNVB) has been testing the use of video to aid referees during matches, and Riley has welcomed the development.

He said: "They should be congratulated for the investment, the foresight on behalf of world football to say 'how can we make this better?' Because we can."

Riley also backed the proposal to implement sin-bins, rather than the scenario where dismissal, a penalty and a subsequent suspension is award for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity,

"There's a logic to sin-bins," he said. "We've had debate for many years about denying a goalscoring opportunity and triple jeopardy. Is a sin-bin one way around that?"