Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) has announced that from the start of next season the Select Group assistant referees will be centrally contracted.
A new dedicated group of referees, Select Group 2, will also be created for the start of the 2016/17 campaign.
A statement issued by the PGMOL reads as follows:
"As part of the continued development of match officials, PGMOL is pleased to confirm that from the start of next season the Select Group assistant referees will be centrally contracted.
"This will enable these officials to focus fully on their role and will provide the time to train alongside their referee colleagues.
"In addition, we are pleased to confirm that a dedicated group of 18 referees, Select Group 2, will be created from the start of next season to officiate primarily in Championship matches. These referees will also be employed by PGMOL providing the benefits of training and development alongside their Select Group colleagues."
At present, Select Group assistant referees and National List referees are paid on a match-fee basis, but this change will see them move to part-time and full-time PGMOL contracts.
The aim of the above changes is to expand the refereeing talent pool and ensure there is a strong development pathway for young officials coming through the ranks.