Premier League match officials receive expert support from LJMU sport scientists

Pictured from left to right: Conor Heeney, Ian Hussin, Richie Armstrong, Jarred Gillett and Nina Slawson

Four Premier League professional match officials are receiving strength and conditioning training and physiotherapy sessions with LJMU sport scientists, under a new partnership with the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) group and Game Changer Performance (GCP).

Having identified LJMU as a leader in sport and exercise science teaching and research, with strong connections to many professional football clubs in the UK and abroad, the university collaboration will help to maintain and improve the match officials’ fitness and performance throughout the season.

Supporting professional performance and improvement

Conor Heeney, Performance Sport Science Co-ordinator at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, is delivering the service alongside fellow experts Richie Armstrong, who is responsible for Strength and Conditioning, and Sports Therapy and Physiotherapy is delivered by Nina Slawson, clinical lead at LJMU’s Bounce Physiotherapy Clinic.

Conor said: “At LJMU we have state-of-the-art facilities and high-performance equipment. Combine that with our expertise across a whole host of sport and exercise science disciplines, vital to the success of athletes and professional sports squads worldwide, we are the ideal partner for the PGMOL and GCP.

“Already we’re seeing fantastic progress with three referees and an assistant referee we’ve worked with so far this season, and we hope to expand our support into other areas in the future.”

Premier League match officials involved in the partnership

The match officials supported to date as part of the new partnership are:

Jarred Gillet – a FIFA video match official and Premier League referee originally from Australia. Jarred became the first person born outside of the British Isles to referee a Premier League game after joining the Select Group 1 of referees in June 2021. 

Peter Bankes – also a FIFA video match official and Premier League referee. He has been an English professional football referee since 2016. He also officiates games in the Sky Bet Championship.

Rob Jones – a professional referee since 2017 and officiates primarily as a referee in the Premier League and Championship. This year he has been added to the FIFA list, allowing him to start refereeing in UEFA & FIFA competitions.

Ian Hussin - an assistant referee at over 200 games and first refereed in the Football League in 2011, he was assistant referee at the 2018 FA Cup final as well the Spain vs Portugal friendly before Euro 2020. He is also a FIFA assistant and has been since 2017. 

Professional referee Jarred Gillet reflects on the support he’s receiving

Jarred Gillet said: “We’re really fortunate to be working with LJMU on our physical preparation, recovery and injury prevention and management as part of our physical training programme.

“Our performance as referees in the Premier League depends a lot on our physical ability to be in the best positions to make accurate decisions. So, it’s important we’re in the best shape possible before each match by training well in the lead up, and then recovering well to make sure we’re ready for the next fixture.

“We’ve been able to train in state-of-the-art facilities with dedicated expert coaches and therapists. This has enhanced our individual physical strengths and improved on our weaknesses.”

LJMU one of 14 regional performance centres

LJMU is one of 14 regional performance centres the team at GCP co-ordinates for PGMOL.

Jake Keeling, Founder and Managing Director at GCP said:“The facilities at LJMU and the team they have in place to support are both outstanding, so it was an easy choice for us to setup the regional centre for Merseyside and North Wales.

“The regional performance programme was established in 2019 via a partnership between GCP and the PGMOL to better support the physical performance of the officials across the country each week. Now in its third year, the officials are now supported both in person via the regional performance centres, PGMOL camps and also now remotely via GCP’s digital fitness coaching platform P3RFORM.” 


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