A dedicated group of referees and assistant referees will form the new group and will work primarily in the EFL Championship.
After a vigorous recruitment programme, 18 referees and 36 assistants were selected. The referees are to be employed on a full time basis by PGMOL.
The recruitment process started with a fitness test before the PGMOL assessed all the referees with four different tasks. The tasks involved match preparation ability, possible scenarios ahead of kick-off, a formal interview and finally, communication and engagement with a first team manager after a game.
The scores from their assessment days counted as 50% of their overall mark, with the remaining 50% comprised on their performance as an official in the Championship over the past three seasons.
Former Premier League official Mike Riley believes it is a step forward for match officiating in the EFL. He said: “Those officials selected to form SG2 have been put through one of the most intensive and challenging evaluations in PGMOL history.
“The continued support from the EFL will allow us to improve our development programme and referees will now be able to meet every two weeks during the season, which follows the successful model implemented in the Premier League. Previously, this simply was not possible as our referees juggled the demands of their jobs with their passion for refereeing.”
Shrimps’ Manager Jim Bentley said: “League Two clubs will feel the knock on benefits from the Select Group 2 programme. Having full time referees in the EFL is a step in the right direction for football in this country.
“Officials across all three divisions are doing a fantastic job and we are fortunate to have set such high standards in this country.
“Referees officiating in our league will now benefit from increased training programmes and that can only be beneficial in the long-term.
“The Select Group 2 programme gives referees at our level the impetus to work hard knowing there is an opportunity to progress to work full time in the top two tiers.”