Former referee Mark Halsey has been accused of "betrayal" after saying he believes the standard of officiating in the top flight is not good enough and that several elite list officials "are just not up to it".
Graham Poll blasted Halsey, 52, who retired from officiating last season and is now a pundit, urging him to "take a long, hard look at himself".
Halsey said he felt Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL), the body in charge of match officials, had created an "atmosphere of fear and paranoia" and often failed to pick the right officials for important matches.
Quoted in The Sun, he said he believed eight referees -- Mark Clattenburg, Howard Webb, Mike Dean, Andre Marriner, Lee Probert, Martin Atkinson, Phil Dowd and Chris Foy – were "great", but added: "As for the other ten on the elite list, well... some are just not up to it, while others need more experience, better nurturing and coaching."
That means Premier League officials including Mike Jones, Kevin Friend, Neil Swarbrick and Lee Mason are among those Halsey believes are not good enough at their jobs.
He hit out at PGMOL, saying: "They are running the whole show on an apparent power trip while creating an atmosphere of fear and paranoia.
"That is not helping the weaker officials to improve, and the system often confuses and frequently frustrates the best referees, who get mixed messages about what is expected of them."
Halsey said referees' chief Mike Riley and his assistant, Keren Barratt, were not always picking the right officials for big games.
He added that Riley "had a reputation for being an over-fussy and pedantic ref" and "his manner as general manager of elite referees, whereby he liaises with the Premier League and League Managers' Association, appears not to have changed".
And he said Barrett could not be both the person who draws up the refereeing match list and a "mentor" to officials, explaining: "How can he, when he wears another hat as head of the evaluation committee, which adjudicates and has the power to mark down referees, axe officials from matches or ultimately kick them off the list?"
Halsey also disclosed that statistics provided by an American company are used to evaluate refereeing performances, with officials' pay and bonuses able to be cut if they are adjudged to have been poor.
He added: "Quite why this process has to be out-sourced to America, I have no idea, but what I do know is that it is not a system referees like."
But an angry Poll told talkSPORT: "He is 100 percent betraying what paid him a living he would never have earned as the warehouse manager he was or the taxi driver he was.
"The refereeing fraternity are absolutely appalled at what he is doing. He hasn't thought it through. Mark has got to take a long, hard look at himself. He won't. I know the guy. I have known him for years. He is that type of character, I'm afraid."