Mike Riley (referee)

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For other people named Mike Riley, see Mike Riley (disambiguation).
Mike Riley
Mike riley.jpg
Full name Michael Riley
Born (1964-12-17) 17 December 1964 (age 51)
Leeds, England
Other occupation Accountant
Years League Role
1989–1994 Football League Asst. referee
1994–1996 Football League Referee
1996–2009 Premier League Referee
Years League Role
1999–2009 FIFA listed Referee

Michael Riley (born 17 December 1964) is a former English football referee from Leeds[1] in West Yorkshire, who has refereed matches in the Football League, FA Premier League and for FIFA.


Riley became a national Football League referee in 1994, having previously served five years on their assistant referees' list. He was later granted FIFA status in 1999 allowing him to officiate international fixtures.[2]

FA Cup Final 2002[edit]

In 2002, Riley refereed the English FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea, which he later stated was "the highlight of my career".[3]

League Cup Final 2004[edit]

29 February 2004
Bolton 1–2 Middlesbrough
Davies Goal 21'
Campo Booked
Charlton Booked
Frandsen Booked
Job Goal 2'
Zenden Goal 7' (pen)
Boateng Booked
Ricketts Booked
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Attendance: 72,634

Riley took charge of the 2004 Football League Cup Final, between Bolton and Middlesbrough, in a game that saw all three goals scored within the first 25 minutes. He awarded a penalty to Middlesbrough after just seven minutes, converted by Zenden, and cautioned five players during the course of the game.

Euro 2004[edit]

14 June 2004
Sweden 5–0 Bulgaria
Ljungberg Goal 32'
Larsson Goal 57', Goal 58'
Ibrahimović Goal 78' (pen)
Allbäck Goal 90'

Ibrahimović Booked
Linderoth Booked

Ivailo Petkov Booked
Janković Booked
Kirilov Booked
Estádio José Alvalade, Portugal
Attendance: 52,000

19 June 2004
Latvia 0–0 Germany

Astafjevs Booked
Isakovs Booked

Friedrich Booked
Frings Booked
Hamann Booked
Estádio do Dragão, Portugal
Attendance: 30,000

Riley also headed England's refereeing team alongside assistants Philip Sharp and Glenn Turner at the UEFA Euro 2004 finals.[4]

Football League Championship playoff final 2005[edit]

30 May 2005
West Ham 1–0 Preston
Zamora Goal 57'

Mullins Booked
Walker Booked

Hill Booked
Mawene Booked
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Attendance: 70,275

Riley officiated the Football League Championship playoff final between West Ham United and Preston North End in 2005. West Ham ran out 1 – 0 victors, seeing them promoted to the Premier League.

Hong Kong FA Cup final; 2007[edit]

Riley was invited to go to Hong Kong to take charge of the Hong Kong FA Cup 2006-07 final between South China and Happy Valley in 2007. South China won by 3–1, allowing them to achieve a treble in local competitions (First Division League, Senior Shield and FA Cup). Riley gave three penalty kicks in the match, two for South China and one for Happy Valley.[5]

Later career[edit]

Mike Riley was appointed manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOB) in June 2009, replacing Keith Hackett. This effectively ends his career in refereeing matches.


Riley was accused of major refereeing irregularities in an ArsenalManchester United game in 2004, including a controversial penalty when Wayne Rooney was fouled by Sol Campbell with replays showing that minimal contact had been made. The match, which ended Arsenal's long running unbeaten run at the time, led to immense criticism from Arsenal fans, including an article in the Daily Mail paper using the headline "The Life of Riley".[6] Arsene Wenger said after the match "Riley decided the game, like we know he can do at Old Trafford. There was no contact at all for the penalty, even Rooney said so. It's very difficult to take to see how lightly the referee gives the penalty. We can only master our own performance, not the referee's performance. We got the usual penalty awarded against us when we come to Manchester United and they are in difficulty. It happened last season and it's happened again." He also said of other incidents, "At some stages there were incidents, especially on [José Antonio] Reyes, where there was some deliberate kicking. The rules are there to be respected and only the referee can make the players respect them.[13] There is a YouTube video that compiles many of Riley's controversial decisions during the Man. Utd v. Arsenal match.[7]

The former Bolton Wanderers manager, Sam Allardyce, once criticised him after Riley officiated between Blackburn Rovers and his own side on 14 January 2006.[8] Allardyce denied a charge of improper conduct by the FA following his comments,[9] but was found guilty at a personal hearing, fined £2000, severely censured and warned as to his future conduct. Following the match Allardyce had said: "The stats just don't stand up when he referees us. In my opinion, it is not good enough – he nearly caused a riot." Opposing manager Mark Hughes had partly agreed, saying: "Both sides would argue the referee didn't have his best game but can't argue about the sending off."[10]

He was involved in controversy on 30 March 2006 after the sending off of a Levski player in a UEFA Cup 2005-06 quarter final tie, Levski vs Schalke. He showed a second yellow card to Cedric Bardon, although it was disputed whether there was any contact between him and the opposition player.

After Chelsea's 1–0 win at Reading on 14 October 2006, Riley received more criticism, having allowed Petr Čech and Carlo Cudicini only to crawl off the field early in the game with what turned out to be a serious head injury.[11]

In a lighter vein, during the first half of the home match against Newcastle on 30 April 2007 Kingsley Royal, the Reading club mascot, was sent from the field by the referee for standing too close to the pitch. It was reported that one of Riley's assistants mistook Kingsley for one of the players and almost flagged him for offside. A spokesman for the FA said: "The referee reported to us that the mascot made a number of inflammatory gestures. I don't know what the gestures were and we are now making further enquiries and will look at video evidence."[12] After reviewing video footage the FA confirmed that they would be taking no further action.[13]

In a Euro 2008 qualifying match between Albania and the Netherlands on 12 September 2007, Riley denied Albania a goal in the last minutes of the first half when Dutch defender Mario Melchiot headed a ball behind his own goalkeeper after an Albanian free kick. Riley ruled out the goal and gave a free kick to Holland. He was also said to have finished the game two minutes early, due to fireworks being thrown from the spectators' area.[14] The criticism in the Albanian media and from the Albanian players was very harsh. The Albanian Football Federation decided to file an official complaint with UEFA.[15]

In February 2009 in a match between Chelsea and Liverpool, Riley sent off Frank Lampard for a tackle on Xabi Alonso, with the score at 0–0. Liverpool went on to win the game 2–0. Replays however showed that Lampard had won the ball cleanly and he successfully appealed the red card. In the same game, Steven Gerrard had earlier been involved in 2 potential red card incidents both of which were ignored by the referee. Lampard suggested that referees should take more time to consult with their assistants before making big decisions.[16][17] In the same match, Riley failed to discipline José Bosingwa for stamping on Yossi Benayoun's back, a blatant foul for which Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari admitted Bosingwa should have been sent off. Because the assistant referee did see this incident and it was included in the match report, the FA were unable to review it to apply retrospective punishment.

In March 2009 Hull manager Phil Brown accused Riley of a "disgraceful" performance and of being influenced by the Arsenal fans during Hull's FA Cup defeat at the Emirates Stadium. Phil Brown was charged by the FA and fined £2,500 for improper conduct.[18]

In April 2009 Everton played Manchester United in the FA Cup semi final. Mike Riley was appointed the referee and Everton Manager David Moyes questioned his appointment and called for an FA investigation into whether the official had any allegiance towards Manchester United [19] – a comment for which Moyes was not punished by the FA. No investigation was made into his allegations. However, in the match itself, Manchester United were denied a possible penalty when Phil Jagielka made slight contact with Danny Welbeck in the penalty area,[20] prompting Sir Alex Ferguson to suggest that Mike Riley had been influenced by Moyes's comments [21]

Career statistics[edit]

Season Games Total Booked Booked per game Total Red card Red card per game
1997/98 28 87 3.11 3 0.11
1998/99 23 81 3.52 7 0.30
1999/2000 28 93 3.32 9 0.32
2000/01 36 141 3.92 9 0.25
2001/02 31 117 3.77 19 0.61
2002/03 33 105 3.18 7 0.21
2003/04 38 130 3.42 6 0.16
2004/05 39 117 3.00 11 0.28
2005/06 42 147 3.50 16 0.31
2006/07 43 145 3.37 13 0.30
2007/08 37 124 3.35 6 0.16
2008/09 35 145 4.14 6 0.17
Overall 444 1432 3.23 109 0.25
Please Note: There are no available records prior to 1997/1998


  1. ^ "David Moyes questions Mike Riley's allegiance to Manchester United". London: The Guardian. 17 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  2. ^ Profile at the Football League Official website
  3. ^ "FA Cup Final 2002 – the highlight" of Mike Riley's career: Interview at TheFA.com
  4. ^ Confirmation of appointments for Euro 2004: OfficialSports.co.uk
  5. ^ Hong Kong FA Cup Final, match report: EnglishSINA.com
  6. ^ Man. Utd. v. Arsenal, 2004, refereeing errors debate: Match report, Daily Mail
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Article where Sam Allardyce is quoted as being critical of Mike Riley: The Guardian
  9. ^ Allardyce denial of improper conduct: TheFA.com
  10. ^ Quotes and FA action, same match, Mark Hughes and Sam Allardyce: BBC Sport
  11. ^ Petr Čech's head injury mentioned: "Hob Nob Anyone?" – Royals Match Reports
  12. ^ Kempson, Russell (2007-05-02). "Riley bites off more than he can chew with Madejski lion bar". London: The Times. Retrieved 2007-05-02. 
  13. ^ Russell Kempson (2007-05-03). "King of the Jungle free to roar one more time". London: The Times. Retrieved 2007-05-03. 
  14. ^ Disallowed Albanian goal, versus Holland, Euro 2008 qualifier: ESPN soccernet, Retrieved on 14 September 2007
  15. ^ Albanian Football Federation, files official complaint with UEFA regarding Holland game: Albania Soccer; Retrieved on 16 September 2007
  16. ^ Moore, Glenn (2009-02-04). "Lampard free to play after blunder". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  17. ^ "Officials should liaise – Lampard". BBC Sport. 2009-02-04. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  18. ^ "Phil Brown fined £2,500 for outburst at Arsenal". The Guardian. London. 24 June 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  19. ^ "Life of Riley – Leeds official Mike hangs up whistle to take over from Hackett as refs' chief". Daily Mail. London. 26 June 2009. 
  20. ^ "Man Utd 0–0 Everton (aet)". BBC News. 19 April 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  21. ^ Benammar, Emily (20 April 2009). "Sir Alex Ferguson suggests Mike Riley was influenced". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 23 April 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Graham Barber
FA Charity Shield
Succeeded by
Andy D'Urso
Preceded by
Steve Dunn
FA Cup Final Referee
Succeeded by
Graham Barber
Preceded by
Paul Durkin
League Cup Final
Succeeded by
Steve Bennett