Dons chief backs bid for referees in League 1 to go pro

Dons have the worst disciplinary record in League 1 this season
Dons have the worst disciplinary record in League 1 this season

Refereeing in League 1 should be made professional, according to Dons’ Executive Director Andrew Cullen.

While officials in the Premier League and Championship are full time, referees in Leagues 1 and 2 are only part-time, and Cullen believes this has a huge impact on their standards.

Dons have the worst disciplinary record in League 1 this season, with 72 cautions and five dismissals, while former boss Robbie Neilson was twice sent off too.

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The call for professional officials is a topic which was discussed at a recent EFL club meeting, but Cullen believes the funding could be a stumbling block.

“Ultimately, the prospect of turning this vision into a reality comes down to funding,” he said.

“Championship clubs each commit £50,000 per season to partly pay for professional referees, and such a large figure might be onerous for some clubs at our level.

“The fees they earn from officiating - around £400 per game - are totally inadequate to allow them to make a full-time career out of the important and vital job they perform on matchdays.

“Not only would (turning professional) improve their knowledge of the laws of the game but it might offer the prospect of an alternative career in the game for those not offered a professional playing contact.”

Bigger share of TV money may help clubs subsidise the cost of referees turning pro, and with the improved standard in the Championship, Cullen says Dons support the move.

He added: “This is something we would wholeheartedly support and we look forward to understanding more from the governing bodies as well as the PGMOL regarding the feasibility of this becoming a reality and whether it would have the support of others.”