Howard Webb is being moved to the front line of a battle to improve refereeing performances in the Premier League.
A key change of title will see Webb effectively managing top flight officials, the Star understands.
Professional Game Match Officials Limited have acted during a mistake-riddled season that has seen referees under fire from all corners amid a clamour for video technology.
Webb was called ‘technical director’ when he quit the middle last summer to take on a new career with the umbrella organisation.
Now he becomes ‘Select Group Performance Director’ which means he will have responsibility for preparing officials and presiding over their work.
It also appears to indicate a more remote role for under-fire general manager Mike Riley, who is also a director of PGMOL.
The move follows calls from Keith Hackett for South Yorkshire’s World Cup final referee to step into the breach.
Sheffield-based Hackett, a former FIFA referee who had a six-year spell in charge of England’s match officials, was Webb’s mentor during a meteoric career.
“This is a step in the right direction and I wish Howard every success,” said Hackett, who now fronts the website www.you-are-the-ref.com.
“I’m delighted that PGMOL appear to have listened to our advice. I know that Howard can make a difference. Besides his great experience he is also an excellent communicator.”
Webb will continue in a media related advisory role, although some have questioned his effectiveness in that area because he has rarely been seen or heard.
Hackett believes Webb’s appearances have been curbed by media chiefs. “I hope Howard is given the freedom to act,” he added, calling for greater transparency from PGMOL.
There are also moves to strengthen the referee coaching team with 52-year-old Chris Foy, who seems to be nearing the end of his long active career, the favourite to work alongside Webb.