NFL and Referees Association reach agreement to end dispute over pension pay
12:15 GMT, 27 September 2012
The NFL and NFL Referees Association have reached an agreement which means temporary officials will no longer take charge of matches.
The dispute over a collective bargaining agreement, largely due to a disagreement over pension payments, had seen replacements drafted in from lower division college, high school and semi-professional football.
But their performances have led to a raft of controversial calls and criticism over the opening three weeks of the new season.
Problem solved: The Referees Association and the NFL have reached an agreement
A new eight-year deal has now been agreed and although it still needs ratifying by the officials – that is expected over the weekend – the regular referees are due to return, starting with tonight's clash between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told www.nfl.com: 'The long-term future of our game requires that we seek improvement in every area, including officiating.
'This agreement supports long-term reforms that will make officiating better. The teams, players and fans want and deserve both consistency and quality in officiating.
Future's bright: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the agreement supports the long-term goals of the game
'We look forward to having the finest officials in sports back on the field, and I want to give a special thanks to NFL fans for their passion. Now it's time to put the focus back on the teams and players where it belongs.'
The discontent with the temporary officials came to a head on Monday when a controversial call settled the meeting between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers.
The Seahawks won 14-12 after a Packers defender and Seahawks receiver fought for the ball on a final 'Hail Mary' pass play.
Officials missed an offensive pass interference call and then decided there had been simultaneous catch by the two players. Under NFL rules, that gave Seattle the touchdown and the win.
No longer required: Replacement officials were standing in for the referees