LONDON/NEW YORK: Top Engish referee Peter Walton is to become general manager of the new Professional Referee Organization wich will be responsible for managing the referee programme in professional leagues in the United States and Canada.

The creation of PRO is designed to increase the quality of local officiating, to bring through more professional quality officials at a younger age including those who will represent the United States and Canada in FIFA competitions.

Walton’s final Select Group fixture for the Premier League will be on Saturday, March 31, before he takes up his new full-time position with PRO on April 2.

All current US Soccer professional referee staff positions will transition to PRO and report to Walton, who will be based in New York City through the conclusion of the MLS season. Walton will be responsible for managing officials in the MLS and MLS Reserve games, the North American Soccer League, USL PRO and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Walton has been involved with professional football since he joined the Football League as an assistant referee in 1993. The 52-year-old progressed to the FIFA panel of assistants in 1996 and then onto the Referees panel of the Football League in 1998.

Walton accepted a full-time position as a Select Group referee with Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) in 2003. He has refereed almost 200 Premier League matches and also the 2008 Community Shield between Manchester United and Portsmouth.

He said: “I’m looking forward to the next stage of my career. It’s a worthy challenge and I’m excited to get started.

“We’ve had an excellent education at PGMOL in terms of training, sports science and working with the players and manager to improve the standard of officiating in the Premier League. It’s a shame to leave my colleagues in England, who I truly believe to be the best team of officials in world football.”

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