Ex-Premier League referee Mark Halsey ranks the top flight's officials

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey ranks the top flight’s officials, blasting Kevin Friend for being ‘too aggressive in his body language’ but praising Mike Dean for ‘never being afraid to make the big decisions’

  • Mark Halsey has ranked the Premier League’s referees from best to worst
  • The former official blasted Kevin Friend for his ‘aggressive body language’
  • But reserved huge praise for Martin Atkinson, Michael Oliver and Mike Dean

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey has blasted top-flight official Kevin Friend for having an ‘aggressive body language towards players’ during games while he reserved huge amounts of praise for Martin Atkinson.

Halsey, who retired from officiating in 2013, has ranked the Premier League’s 17 referees from best to worst ahead of the new campaign this weekend.

The 59-year-old didn’t hold back in his assessment of his former colleagues, as he pointed out what each man could improve on in an article for The Sun.

Ex-referee Mark Halsey has ranked the Premier League’s match officials from best to worst

At the top of his list was Atkinson, who he lavished praise on for his consistent performances from over the years.

He said: ‘The 49-year-old is like a bottle of vintage red wine – he gets better with age. He’s No 1 Prem ref just ahead of Michael Oliver after consistent performances.’

Michael Oliver, Graham Scott and Mike Dean also featured alongside Atkinson in his group of ‘best referees’, citing that they are trusted most by the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL).

The former official blasted Kevin Friend (centre right) for his ‘aggressive body language’

While he acknowledged Dean was a controversial character, he pointed out that the Tranmere-supporting official will always deliver under pressure.

Halsey continued: ‘Love him or hate him but he’s another consistent performer that the PGMOL management trust to deliver in the high-profile games. Never afraid to make the big decisions.’

Halsey goes on to rate the performances of Anthony Taylor, Chris Kavanagh and Andre Marriner, while also giving pats on the back to newcomers David Coote and Peter Bankes.

However, Halsey, who refereed in the Premier League for 14 years, insists there’s plenty of room for improvement for the likes of Craig Pawson, Lee Mason and Friend, who he claims needs to have a friendlier presence on the pitch.

He heaped praise on Martin Atkinson, who he likened to a ‘fine wine’ that gets better with age 

Halsey also believes Mike Dean (pictured) is one of the most trusted for high-profile games

When analysing Friend’s performances, Halsey said: ‘[He is] Over-officious and too aggressive in his body language towards the players and that sets the wrong tone for the game.’

Ahead of the new season this weekend, Premier League officials are reportedly due to be paid ‘performance-related’ bonuses for the first time.

According to Sky Sports, ‘merit payments’ will be discussed at a PGMOL board meeting on September 12 while it remains to be seen the amount of each bonus. 

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