How much are football referees paid?

Refereeing in English football is a challenging and critical job that ensures the integrity of the game is maintained. From grassroots matches to the grand stages of the Premier League, referees play an essential role. But how much do these guardians of the rules earn for their efforts? Let’s dive into the pay structure for referees across different levels of English football.

Grassroots and Local Leagues

At the grassroots level, referees usually start their journey. These referees are often passionate about the game and might have other primary sources of income. Pay at this level can vary significantly depending on the league and region. On average, referees in local leagues can expect to earn between £20 to £40 per match. This fee covers their travel expenses and a nominal match fee. While it may not be lucrative, it serves as a foundation for gaining experience and progressing to higher levels.

Semi-Professional Leagues

Moving up the ladder, referees officiating in semi-professional leagues, such as the National League and its North and South divisions, see a notable increase in their match fees. Referees at this level typically earn between £80 to £300 per match. The variation depends on the specific league and the nature of the match. These referees might still have other jobs, but their earnings from football can be a significant supplementary income.

EFL and the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL)

Referees in the English Football League (EFL), which encompasses the Championship, League One, and League Two, are generally part of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) Select Group 2. These referees are professional and their compensation reflects the increased responsibility and scrutiny. For EFL referees, the basic salary ranges from £38,500 to £42,000 per year. Additionally, they receive match fees of around £600 to £1,000 per game, depending on the league and the importance of the match. These figures demonstrate a significant jump in earnings, highlighting the professional nature of refereeing at this level.

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Premier League Referees

At the pinnacle of English football officiating are the Premier League referees, who are part of the PGMOL Select Group 1. These referees are full-time professionals and their pay reflects the demands and pressures of officiating in one of the world's most popular and financially lucrative football leagues. The basic salary for Premier League referees ranges from £70,000 to £200,000 per year, depending on their experience and reputation. On top of their basic salary, they earn match fees of around £1,500 to £2,000 per game. Additionally, referees officiating in high-profile or international matches, such as Champions League fixtures or World Cup qualifiers, can earn even more, further boosting their annual income.

Assistant Referees and Fourth Officials

Assistant referees and fourth officials also play crucial roles in match officiating. In the Premier League, assistant referees earn a basic salary of approximately £30,000 to £50,000 per year, with match fees of around £850 to £1,200 per game. Fourth officials, who assist with administrative and managerial duties during matches, earn similar fees to assistant referees.