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Dr Thomas Webb

Senior Lecturer

Thomas Webb


I am an expert in the management, leadership, operational environment and working practices of match officials and referees in sport. 

I’m available for media interviews. I’ve previously been featured on national and regional media, including BBC 5 Live, SkySports, TalkSport, the Times, the Telegraph and the Guardian.


I am a Senior Lecturer in Sports Management and Development and coorindator of the Referee and Match Official Research Network. I am a member of the editorial board for Soccer & Society and a regular reviewer of articles for a wide variety of academic journals. I am also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

I have recently published a book on the subject of elite referees in football entitled, Elite Soccer Referees: Officiating in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A, and prior to joining the University of Portsmouth in 2009 I had over five years experience working within the Sports Management and Sports Development sector.

I currenlty live in Bishop's Waltham with my wife Hayley and our two children. 

Research Interests

My research interests concern the role of the match official in sport. Specifically, I am coordinator of the Referee and Match Official Research Network and have recently been awarded a grant of more than £11,500 from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to explore the working practices and operational environments of referees from a transnational comparative perspective, specifically focused upon referee abuse across Europe. 

This research focus has extended to consider other sports such as Rugby Union, Rugby League and Cricket, all of which have generated very strong national media coverage on topics such as the erosion of values in sport.

My research has also resulted in changes to policy, with some of the research conducted on cricket utilised to assist in changing the laws of the game across the world.  

Teaching Responsibilities

I teach on the Sports Management related courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level in the Department of Sport and Exercise Science. 

I have supervised undergraduate, postgraduate, MRes and MPhil dissertations and research projects in a number of diverse research areas including:

  • Referees and the impact of the media
  • Referee performance in soccer
  • Talent identification and development
  • Cultural comparisions of referee and player behaviour
  • The impact of the Olympic bid process on potential host cities

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