The Football Association says it has no plans to introduce full-time referees to the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship for at least three years.
All officials in the top two flights of women’s football are part-time.
Joanna Stimpson, the FA’s women’s professional game refereeing manager, says currently there is not the “value” in the women’s game to afford to pay full-time referees.
“That is ultimately what it comes down to,” she said.
“That doesn’t stop us as an organisation professionalising the environment these match officials are operating on, professionalising the development, education and support.
“Over the next three years we plan to really increase that level of professionalism around the Women’s Super League and the Women’s Championship.
“Will that mean full-time referees in the next three years? No – potentially after that, we don’t know, we wouldn’t like to commit to that, but it is certainly our vision to have full-time match officials for the Women’s Super League. But we are unfortunately driven by the value of the league.
“If there is an injection of income from somewhere then it could change. We want to make sure we have got the infrastructure in place that when we have financial backing we can go with that.”
The standard of refereeing in women’s football has come under increasing scrutiny as the quality and profile of the game has improved.
Lee Burch, the former manager of London Bees, said officials were “miles away from where they need to be”, calling the FA’s decision not to introduce full-time referees “a backwards step”.
In February 2020, former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis said the topic of refereeing in the WSL “needs to be raised” while Wales international Natasha Harding said players “deserve better”.
“The level of officiating hasn’t grown/developed with us and our game,” the Reading captain tweeted.