Howard Webb has been appointed technical director of Professional Game Match Officials Limited after announcing his decision to retire as a referee.

The 43-year-old - who was a prominent official in the Barclays Premier League, as well as at major tournaments - confirmed yesterday that he was stepping down.

He spent the summer officiating at the World Cup in Brazil, having taken charge of the final in 2010 when Spain defeated the Netherlands. Webb was one of the officials at the European Championships in 2008 and 2012, too.

Loading article content

The Englishman has often enjoyed praise for his performances - albeit there had been speculation from fans of some clubs which alleged that Webb favoured Manchester United during their matches - with further compliments coming last night from figures within the English game.

"Howard has been the foremost referee of his generation and an inspiration for match officials in this country and around the world," said Mike Riley, the general manager of the PGMOL. "We are very excited that Howard's knowledge and skills are being retained and shared for them and the rest of PGMOL's officials.

"Last season we trebled the funding for referee coaching and training and we will continue to invest in match officials from the Premier League down to the contributory leagues. We want to accelerate the development of referees from the semi-professional game so that we have an even stronger talent pool to pick from at Select Group level. There is no one better to lead on that than Howard Webb."

His service to English football was acknowledged too by Greg Dyke, the chairman of the FA. "On behalf of the FA, I would like to pay tribute to Howard Webb for a magnificent and unrivalled refereeing career," he said.

"Howard has taken charge of the biggest games going - not least the 2010 World Cup final. It is no surprise that he was one of our most important ambassadors for the FA's 150th anniversary celebrations in 2013."

It is the future and his new role within the PGMOL which will occupy Webb now. "I have spent over a decade with the best seat in the house for Barclays Premier League matches, have been lucky enough to be involved in nine major international tournaments and taken charge of Champions League and World Cup finals," Webb said.

"Refereeing has given me so much and I think it's important that match officials who have had the rewards remain in the game to pass on their knowledge. The current select group are the best referees this country has produced and I am thrilled that I not only get the chance to continue working with them but also the opportunity to help develop the next generation of officials."