Howard Webb is returning to the Premier League, leading to fans joking Manchester United have made their first signing of the transfer window.
Webb, who refereed the 2010 World Cup final, is to take up a role as the Premier League's chief refereeing officer after current head Mike Riley announced he would be vacating the position.
Riley, 57, has been overseeing referees as the PGMOL chief for 13 years now but will be stepping away at the end of the 2022/23 campaign, saying "now is the right time" in a statement.
He commented: “As the Elite Referee Development Plan begins to take shape, now is the right time to plan for the future and allow the new leadership team to build on the strong foundations that we have in place. I look forward to working with the new team over the next season and giving them my support before I step down.”
NEW: Mike Riley to step down as head of PGMOL after 13 years in charge of English football's referees pic.twitter.com/tJvg9lXEGi— Sam Cunningham (@samcunningham) June 25, 2022
PGMOL have said they are working on a replacement for Riley but according to The Telegraph, Webb is well on contention.
The 50-year-old retired in 2014 and immediately transitioned into a role as a technical director for PGMOL.
He is currently working for the MLS in a similar capacity, with his contract expiring in December.
The former police officer is reportedly seen as "an ideal fit" and will join his wife, Bibiana Steinhaus-Webb, in the PGMOL set-up. The ex Bundesliga official manages referees in the women's game.
But news of Webb's comeback was met with instant reaction from fans joking he is back to save United:
Congratulations to Manchester United on their first signing ! https://t.co/lELqyIMz1o— ‘Malik Afolabi (@afoguarantor100) June 25, 2022
FERGIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! WE ARE ACTUALLY BACK! https://t.co/UpMCC7iONo— ً (@Eclairs___) June 25, 2022
Webb took charge of 296 Premier League matches in his lengthy career. He is a boyhood Rotherham United but had to deal with Man United jibes on a regular basis.
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