Howard Webb says Stoke and Everton grounds are toughest places to referee

Stoke Britannia Stadium

Howard Webb has spoken about the atmosphere at Stoke City and Everton.

Former referee Howard Webb has told the Fletch and Sav show on BT Sport that Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium and Everton’s Goodison Park are the hardest places to officiate in the Premier League.

Webb was widely regarded as one of England’s finest referees as he was selected for a number of Champions League matches as well as the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa.

Referees have an increasingly tough job, with numerous camera angles and instant replies for the millions watching at home leaving their every decision open to scrutiny and abuse.

But it’s also an intimidating role to officiate in front of a hostile atmosphere, and Webb says there aren’t many places tougher than Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium and Everton’s Goodison Park.

“I’ve got to say it’s [Stoke] the hardest place in the Premier League, by a country mile in my opinion. The fans are hostile and it’s difficult for the away teams as well,” Webb explained.

“This [the Britannia Stadium] and Everton are the two where the fans impose themselves on the proceedings more than anywhere else.”

Stoke has often been an extremely difficult place for away teams, and even the so-called big clubs have tasted heavy defeats - with Liverpool in particular losing 6-1 on the final day of last season.

Former boss Tony Pulis built a physical Stoke team which often bullied their opponents, and now current manager Mark Hughes has taken them further by adding genuine quality in attacking areas.

Their latest fixture saw league leaders Manchester City thoroughly outplayed as Stoke won 2-0.

Everton, likewise, has always been a tough ground for away teams and the compact surrounds at Goodison Park allow fans to feel close to the action and really intimidate the opposition players.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal have all struggled against the Toffees, while Sunderland have found themselves on the wrong end end of 6-2 and 7-1 thrashings in recent times.

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