Peter Walton moves onto Pastures New - Exclusive

 

By Alex Byrom

Referees Editor 


Experienced Select Group referee Peter Walton has announced he has accepted an offer as the new referees' chief for officials in the United States and Canada.

The 52-year-old, who has refereed nearly 200 Barclays Premier League matches, will take up his new role as General Manager of the newly-formed Professional Referee Organization (PRO) on 2nd April.

The PRO will be responsible for managing the referee programme in professional football leagues in the US and Canada.

Walton's final Select Group fixture for the Premier League is Everton vs West Brom at Goodison Park this Saturday 31st March.

"I'm sure Pete will be a wonderful ambassador for English officiating," Mike Riley, General Manager of PGMOL said. 


Walton famously showing Jordan Mutch a "fake" card after leaving his in the dressing room.  

Walton first joined the Football League as an assistant referee in 1993 and after advancing to the FIFA panel of assistants in 1996, and the referees’ panel of the Football League in 1998; he was one of the first referees to become a professional when he joined the newly-formed Select Group referee in 2003.

The Northamptonshire whistler has refereed several high-profile games during his sixteen year career: It started in 1996 when he was the assistant for the FA Cup final between Liverpool and Manchester United and became a UEFA referee the same year but stepped down two years’ later.

In 2003 he took charge of the LDV Vans Trophy (now Johnstone Paint Trophy) between Carlisle United and Bristol City, and refereed at Wembley in 2008 when he officiated the Community Shield between Manchester United and Portsmouth which the former won on penalties.

Mike Riley added the appointment was recognition of the work being done with referees in England. "Pete has been a terrific servant of PGMOL over the last decade and an invaluable member of the Select Group team," said Riley.

"We see it as a great endorsement of the work of PGMOL that one of our officials has been entrusted with developing professional refereeing in the United States and Canada. “I’m sure Pete will be a wonderful ambassador for English officiating."

The PRO was set up with the aim of increasing the quality of officiating in professional leagues in the US and Canada, developing more professional quality officials at a younger age and developing officials who will represent the United States and Canada in FIFA competitions. 


Walton replaced Mark Clattenburg as the referee for the 2008 Community Shield won by Man United. 

 

"It's a shame to leave my colleagues in England, who I truly believe to be the best team of officials in world football,” Walton said.

"I'm looking forward to the next stage of my career as the general manager of the PRO," added Walton, who took charge of the 2008 Community Shield between Manchester United and Portsmouth.

"The formation of PRO by US Soccer and MLS provides a great opportunity to increase the development of referees and improve the overall quality of refereeing in the US professional leagues. It's a worthy challenge and I’m excited to get started.

"We've had an excellent education at PGMOL in terms of training, sports science and working with the players and manager to improve the standard of officiating in the Premier League.

"It's a shame to leave my colleagues in England, who I truly believe to be the best team of officials in world football, but they won't have seen the last of me as I'm looking to develop close links with the PRO and PGMOL to help further improve officiating on both sides of the Atlantic." 


The Northamptonshire official's last red card: On the opening day of the season. 

 

The PRO set-up, which will mirror that of PGMOL, allows for more funding towards the referee programme, hiring of more experienced technical staff, increased training opportunities for officials, additional identification and training opportunities for up-and-coming officials and increased investment toward sports science.

The number of full-time referees is also expected to increase.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said: "MLS and US Soccer proudly welcome PRO General Manager Peter Walton, who will utilise his exceptional experience as a referee and as an administrator, along with substantial resources, to help MLS achieve its vision of setting the worldwide standard in officiating."

During his career he has handed out 1273 yellow cards and 81 red cards so far. Also he has handed out 114 penalties. Last season he handed out the second most yellows (110) and 9 red cards. This season thus far he has had 14 Premier League games, giving just a single penalty with just 41 yellow cards and just 1 red card. 

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