Premier League referee takes top Suffolk FA position

REFEREEING in Suffolk has been given a considerable boost by the appointment of Premier League referee Steve Tanner as referee development officer for the county.

The 40-year-old official is currently based in Bath, but has already started work at the Suffolk FA headquarters in Stowmarket.

With Mick Thorpe having to call it a day last season because of injury, the county has been left without a Football League referee - let alone a Premier League one.

Tanner’s arrival will rectify this and show budding young officials what can be achieved.

Tanner, who will taking charge of Barnsley’s home Championship against Reading on Saturday, is delighted to take up his full time position in Suffolk.

The man, who started refereeing aged 14, said: “Perhaps it is time for me to give something back although I have no plans to hang up my whistle.

“From what I have already seen there is a lot of young talent in the county and it will be a case of preparing them to go as high as they can.

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“Howard Webb taking charge of the 2010 World Cup final gave refereeing in this country a big boost, and we are now receiving applications from as many 14 and 15 year olds as we are players who have retired from playing.

“We are fortunate to have the support of Ipswich Town, with the club giving full support to the development of young officials at their academy.”

Tanner has taken over a position previously held by Phil Knight before the latter took over as chief executive of Suffolk FA from, Martin Head in January.

“I was looking to get into referee development work, and I actually know Phil as he had acted as one of my assistants on a number of occasions,” added Tanner.

“The Suffolk job came up and I was lucky enough to get it. I shall be moving to Suffolk as soon as I can find a property.”

Knight revealed the impact that Tanner has already made. “We had a ‘Meet Steve Tanner Night’ and were overwhelmed with the response such is his standing,” said Knight.

“When Steve talks people listen.

“Every aspiring referee in the county now has someone who has proven that there is a path to reach the top.”

Tanner went to watch Ipswich’s 3-0 defeat by Watford at Portman Road on Tuesday, but was called into action when appointed official Grant Hegley went lame in the first half.

“I took over as the fourth official in my civvies,” revealed Tanner. “I thought it was going to be a night off!”

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