Wilkie praises ref academy

Former Premiership match official Alan Wilkie believes York City's referee academy can become one of the best in England.

Wilkie, best known as the ref who dismissed Eric Cantona before his infamous attack on a fan at Selhurst Park, is impressed by the progress which the academy is making.

Newcastle-based Wilkie, who also heads the national development programme for referees project, played an intrical part in setting up the academy after discussions with Minstermen officials nearly four years ago.

He told the York Press: "The way the academy at York has flourished is testament to all the hard work that has been done there by the people involved, who need to be applauded.

"It compares favourably with others in the country and is better than some with the potential to be one of the best.

"I'm very pleased with the outlook because there are a number of young referees who have made promising progress."

Two of Wilkies top young referees, Ben Ballantyne and Paul Tomes, have been given the chance to attend the National Young Referees Conference in Daventry at the end of May, something that he is especially proud of.

He added: "They've been selected because of their ability and the potential they are showing.

"We are identifying talent at the academies and developing it. We're not fast-tracking people.

"When I was starting out you were just given your certificate and then sent off to get on with it but the first referee academy was set up at Charlton Athletic in the mid-1990s and we've got 95 now.

"It's my ambition to get 200 up and running and we are trying to get as many centres in every county as possible."

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