PREMIER LEAGUE officials expect boss Mike Riley to be axed by December – paving the way for Howard Webb to take over as refs’ chief.
SunSport understands a number of top-flight clubs have complained about the standard of officiating and the use of VAR under the 57-year-old’s watch.
That has left some Prem officials believing Riley’s tenure with the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials) is coming to an end.
Riley has been in charge of Prem refs since January 2010.
And Webb, who retired from on-field duties in 2014 and then became a performance director at the PGMOL, is the frontrunner to return.
Webb, who refereed the 2010 World Cup final between Holland and Spain, lasted only 12 months in his role and quit because of frustrations.
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The 50-year-old from Rotherham in Yorkshire moved to the MLS and he is currently the general manager of the Professional Referee Organisation where he is contracted until January.
He has also overseen the use of VAR in America which has had better reviews than the Prem.
But the MLS refs’ department are due to hold their own review in December, likely during the World Cup.
And that could allow Webb to make a comeback to English football in a senior role.
Controversies surrounding Riley this season peaked in March when he reportedly apologised to Everton after they were denied a late spot-kick against Manchester City.
Ref Paul Tierney refused to point to the spot after Rodri’s apparent handball and VAR stuck with his decision.
But Toffees’ boss Frank Lampard claimed his ‘three-year-old daughter could see it was a penalty’.
Lampard and the Everton board made an official complaint.
And Riley is said to have called Lamps as well as Toffees’ chairman Bill Kenwright to say sorry.
The Premier League itself issued a statement to say there was ‘not clear enough evidence to show conclusively that it was handball’.