Dr Tom Webb is an expert in the management, leadership, operational environment and working practices of match officials and referees in sport. Dr Webb has publiished extensively on the subject of sports officials, with over 35 peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters.

He is available for media interviews. He has previously been featured on national and regional media, including BBC TV, BBC 5 Live, SkySports, TalkSport, ITV, the Times, the Telegraph and the Guardian, amongst other outlets.


Dr Tom Webb is Course Leader for the MSc Sport Management and a Senior Lecturer in Sport Management. Tom is an Associate Editor for Managing Sport and Leisure, a member of the Editorial Board for Cogent Social SciencesSoccer & Society and the Football Collective, a regular reviewer of articles for a wide variety of academic journals and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Tom is founder and coordinator of the Referee and Match Official Research Network which was formed as a result of the widely published research from a variety of disciplinary perspectives on the subject of referees and match officials in sport. In addition to peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters, this research includes a book published in 2020 entitled Referees, match officials and abuse: Research and implications for policy and a book on the subject of elite referees in football entitled, Elite Soccer Referees: Officiating in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A (publiished in 2017). Tom has worked with a number of high profile sporting organisations such as UEFA, The Premier League, the MCC and World Netball.

Prior to joining the University of Portsmouth in 2009 Tom had over five years experience working within the Sport Management and Sports Development sector.

Research Interests

Tom's research interests concern the role of match officials in sport. Specifically, Tom coordinates the Referee and Match Official Research Network and has been awarded grants and funding from agencies such as UEFA, the Premier League, World Netball and the European Commission. 

Alongside football in both the UK and around the world, the research focus has considered 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. Tom's 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.

Tom's recent research has focused on violence and abuse towards sports officials and the mental health and wellbeing of sports officials from a global persepctive. 

Teaching Responsibilities

Tom is Course Leader for the MSc Sport Management and also teaches on the Sports Management and Development programme at undergraduate level in the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science. Tom teaches on the MSc programme and Sport Event Management as part of the undergraduate programme. 

Tom has supervised undergraduate, postgraduate, MRes and MPhil dissertations and PhD research projects in a number of diverse research areas including:

  • The abuse of sports officials
  • Positive mental health and officiating
  • Referees and the impact of the media
  • Referee performance in soccer
  • Talent identification and development of sports officials
  • Cultural comparisions of referee and player behaviour