The decision for referees to receive bonuses is not new for this campaign. The country's top match officials receive bonuses every year, but the coronavirus pandemic pushed back this year's bonus being paid until the conclusion of the season on 1 August.
Reports from Sky Sports claim that the figure of 'merit payments', paid to each of the 17 Select Group 1 (SG1) referees who officiate in the Premier League, varies for each official. This is dependent on their position in a merit table, positions on which are based on on-field performances. Matches where referees serve as a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) are not taken into account, and a referee must have completed more than 10 games to receive any kind of bonus.
Merit tables are used throughout the refereeing pyramid in England to decide promotion and demotion through the levels. Whilst in the semi-professional and grassroots game, referees are assessed by a referee observer every few matches, the PGMOL claims that Premier League officials are "evaluated by a former senior referee who scrutinises every decision using the match footage and event data to measure the officials’ technical performance", on every game.
These tables then help decide appointments for high-profile matches, including cup, derby and play-off fixtures.
As well as bonuses given to top flight referees, such as Anthony Taylor, Michael Oliver and Mike Dean, they are also made to referees in the English Football League (EFL) Championship, League One and League Two, who make up the Select Group 2 (SG2), or National Group, of referees.
The 65 SG1 referees, SG1 assistant referees and Championship referees are all full-time professionals, but are classed as self-employed.
How much do referees earn?
The bonuses are on top of a referee's annual salary. The Daily Mirror reported in 2019 that Premier League referees earn around £42,000 as a basic salary, before receiving around £1,500 per game in match fees as well as travel, accommodation and food expenses. Excluding bonuses, this means top flight referees could earn towards £100,000 a year, depending on the number of matches officiated.
The body which administers referees in the professional game - the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) - has said that the bonuses will be discussed at the next board meeting, which will take place before the start of the 2020-21 season on 12 September.
Although, the body has not disclosed the exact amount of payments, it was revealed in 2018 that EFL referees received bonuses of up to £3,500 in the 2014-15 season, according to documents from the PGMOL's tax tribunal with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.
However, the tribunal added that bonuses would not be paid if there was a "catastrophic" season in terms of refereeing performance.
How is the PGMOL funded?
The PGMOL receives funding from the Premier League, the EFL and the Football Association. According to its most recent annual accounts, its turnover included £10.2m, £5.3m and £3.7m from each of the three organisations respectively.
Sky Sports claims that the cost of implementing VAR, which made its debut in the top flight last season, is expected to be announced when the PGMOL publishes accounts for the year ending 31 July 2020.