Some of these match officials are regarded as the best of their trade in the world.
In the Premier League over the last decade, one of the main talking points have been the referees. Things have changed since the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in the Premier League, as it has taken a more controversial term. However, refereeing decisions still remain the main topic of discussion over the weekend in English football.
Over the years, the English top-flight has seen several exceptional match officials who have been taking the tough calls and conducting matches in the fairest way possible. While the laws in football kept on changing and technology also coming into the foray, some referees have stayed through the years and have adjusted to the new circumstances.
Here are top five referees who have officiated the most numbers of Premier League matches.
5. Phil Dowd (307 matches)
The retired English referee was a member of the Staffordshire Football Association and had officiated in the Premier League over 15 years. However, before the start of the 2015/16 season, he suffered an injury and then a statement from PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Board) revealed that Dowd has decided to draw an end to his career as a match official.
With 307 Premier League matches under his belt, Dowd was undoubtedly one of the most sought-after and experienced referees especially in the Premier League and even in Europe as a whole.
The veteran officiated in some of the big games in English football – from FA Cup finals, League Cup finals and a Charity Shield match in his long and illustrious career.
4. Graham Poll (329 matches)
Another retired match official in this list of veterans, Graham Poll has had the privilege of officiating in some of the biggest matches in the World. Poll is a Premier League listed referee ever since the league’s inception in 1993. He retired from officiating after taking charge in 329 matches in the English top flight.
The 58-year old was also one of the biggest names in International football circuit, having officiated in World Cup matches in both 20002 and 2006. He retired from International referring after the 2006 FIFA World Cup, before officiating in the Premier League for another year ahead of hanging his boots. Poll is one of the first elite referees who has gone ahead and tried to inspire and teach the new generation of match officials.
3. Andre Marriner (345 matches)
One of the most popular referees in the Premier League, Andre Marriner has officiated in 345 games in the English top flight already in his career. Marriner is a member of the Birmingham Football Association and made his debut in the Premier League in November 2004.
The 50-year-old is known for his astute judgement and consistency and therefore in 2008, he was invited to join FIFA’s list of international referees for 2009. Marriner also officiated in the 2009 Euro U-19s Championship along with some matches in the Europa League.
Marriner has been involved in some great fixtures over the years and one of the best of the lot has to be FA final where Wigan Athletic triumphed over Manchester City in 2013. He continues to be one of the pivotal figures among the referees in the Premier League.
2. Martin Atkinson (424 matches)
Martin Atkinson has been one of the veterans Premier League referees who is still active to this day. He started his journey as an official from the age of 16 and over the years, he has risen through ranks to be at the level where he is now.
Atkinson has been a Premier League official since 2005 and ever since then, he has been involved in some of the most crucial matches. Apart from the Premier League, the 49-year-old has officiated in the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and FA Cup finals. He was also part of Howard Webb’s officiating team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. With 424 appearances in the Premier League, he is currently at the second position among all the referees.
1. Mike Dean (521 matches)
One of the few referees who has been officiating matches in Premier League for 20 years now. Mike Dean is one of the most well known and respected match officials all around the world. Dean started his Premier League journey in 2000 and is an elite level referee who helps, guide and teach other young budding officials.
A member of the Cheshire Football Association, he has also been a FIFA affiliated referee since 2003 and has been involved in several matches over different tournaments. With 521 Premier League appearances and counting, Dean has shown no signs of slowing down and is set to create a record that will be very hard to beat in following years.