PREMIER LEAGUE officials expect boss Mike Riley to be sacked by December – paving the way for Howard Webb to take over as chief umpire.
SunSport understands that a number of top clubs have complained about the standard of refereeing and use of VAR under the 57-year-old’s watch.
This has left some Prem officials to believe that Riley’s tenure with the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials) is coming to an end.
Riley has been in charge of Prem referees since January 2010.
And Webb, who retired from field duties in 2014 and later became performance director at PGMOL, is the favorite to return.
Webb, who refereed the 2010 World Cup final between the Netherlands and Spain, lasted just 12 months in his role and quit due to frustrations.
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The 50-year-old from Rotherham in Yorkshire has joined MLS and is currently managing director of the Professional Referee Organization where he is under contract until January.
He also oversaw the use of VAR in America, which had better reviews than the Prem.
But the MLS referees department is due to hold its own review in December, likely during the World Cup.
And it could allow Webb to make a return to English football in a senior role.
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The controversies surrounding Riley this season culminated in March when he reportedly apologized to Everton after being denied a late kick against Manchester City.
Referee Paul Tierney refused to point to the spot after Rodri’s apparent handball and the VAR stuck to their decision.
But Toffees boss Frank Lampard claimed his ‘three-year-old daughter could see it was a penalty’.
Lampard and the Everton board have lodged a formal complaint.
And Riley reportedly called Lamps as well as Toffees chairman Bill Kenwright to apologize.
The Premier League itself issued a statement saying there was “not enough clear evidence to show conclusively that it was handball”.