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Keith Stuart Hackett (born 22 June 1944) is an Englishmarker former football referee, who began refereeing in local leagues in the Sheffieldmarker, Yorkshiremarker, area in 1960.


He reached the Northern Premier League and became a Football League linesman in 1972. Three years later he advanced to the Supplementary List of referees and one year later in 1976 to the full List at the age of only thirty two. He made progress and in 1979 was senior linesman to Ron Challis in the FA Cup Final. The next season he took charge of an FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Liverpool. The match required a replay, which he also handled, but that ended all-square as well, and two further replays were required to separate the teams.

The following season saw him step up to the ultimate domestic honour of the 1981 FA Cup Final at Wembleymarker, finishing 1-1 between Spurs and Manchester City. Aged only thirty six at the time, he was one of the youngest Cup Final referees. Tommy Hutchison of City scored both goals, causing the game to go to a replay, which Hackett also refereed at Wembley, the game ending 3-2 to Tottenham. He was then appointed to the FIFAmarker List for the following season of 1981-82.

He was then appointed to the 1984 Charity Shield match, in which Everton defeated Liverpool 1-0, courtesy of a Bruce Grobbelaar own goal. In 1986, he refereed the League Cup Final, where Oxford United beat QPR 3-0, thus winning their only knockout trophy.

Internationally, he was a match official at the 1988 European Championships, in which he took control of West Germany's 1-1 draw with Italy in Group A on 10 June at the Rheinstadionmarker.

Hackett also officiated at the 1988 Olympic Football Tournament, handling the semi-final between Brazil and West Germany, which Brazil won on penalties following a 1-1 scoreline after extra time.

He also refereed the 1991 FA Cup Semi-Final between West Ham United and Nottingham Forest, controversially sending off Tony Gale of West Ham for an innocuous tackle in the first half. The match ended 4-0 to Forest and Hackett never refereed a match involving West Ham again.

He continued to be one of the senior English referees, even after his retirement on age grounds from the FIFA List at the end of 1991. Although he reached the English retirement age at the end of the 1991-92 season, he was granted an extension and was one of the first set of Premier League referees for its inaugural 1992-93 campaign. He was granted another extra season on top of this before retiring just short of his fiftieth birthday in 1994.

In retirement

He later worked as a referees' assessor before, on 1 March 2004, he was appointed general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board, replacing Philip Don.

Hackett has also worked to promote knowledge of refereeing via several publications. He published his own book, Hackett's Law; a Referee's Notebook! in 1986. And he continued to provide the answers for cult classic cartoon quiz You Are The Ref, drawn by sports artist Paul Trevillion, which he has done since the 1970s - originally for Shoot! magazine, and then for The Observer newspaper.. He co-authored a book with Trevillion celebrating 50 years of the strip in December 2006. And from August 2008, The Observer's collection of You Are The Ref strips appeared online at

In early 2007, Hackett also produced a DVD-ROM with Trevillion called Referee Academy, for use in the training of match officials, with sanction from the FA, the Football League and the Premier League. During the 2007-08 season, he also wrote a regular column in the matchday programme for Crystal Palace.

Manchester United v. Portsmouth; FA Cup quarter-final 2008

Hackett was criticised by Manchester United Manager Alex Ferguson over the standards of referees in the English game after his team were knocked out of the FA Cup by Portsmouth on 8 March 2008, blaming a series of allegedly bad decisions by match referee Martin Atkinson. Speaking immediately after the game, Ferguson pointed the finger at both Atkinson and Hackett: "Hackett has got a lot to answer for in this country," said the Scot. "He's not doing his job properly. He should be assessed like everyone else is assessed. I'm assessed as a manager, the players are assessed, referees are assessed. Martin Atkinson will referee next week, no problem, but his performance today should not be accepted in our game. Alex Ferguson was later charged by the FA for improper conduct.



  • Football League Handbooks, 1972-1975
  • Rothmans Football Yearbooks, 1976-1994
  • Keith Hackett (1986) Hackett's Law, Collins Willow
  • Gilbert Upton (2005) Football League and Premiership Referees 1888 to 2005, Soccerdata


  1. Birthdate confirmation:; Retrieved on 2 April 2008
  2. Profile at Retrieved on 2 April 2008
  3. 1981 FA Cup Final & Replay Reports from; Retrieved on 2 April 2008
  4. Euro 88, West Germany v. Italy, Group A:; Retrieved on 2 April 2008
  5. Hackett's Law; a Referee's Notebook! ISBN 0002180766 at; Retrieved on 2 April 2008
  6. Other mention of Hackett's 1986 publication. Retrieved on 2 April 2008
  7. Article about Trevillion & Hackett's work together: Peterborough Today (Evening Telegraph); Retrieved on 2 April 2008
  8. Review of You Are The Ref book: ISBN 0852650698 at The Guardian; Retrieved on 2 April 2008
  9. Official site of You Are The Ref at
  10. Referee Academy DVD-ROM, 2007: News Archive; Retrieved on 2 April 2008
  11. Man Utd v. Portsmouth, FA Cup quarter-final, March 2008:; Retrieved on 2 April 2008
  12. Quotes by Alex Ferguson regarding Hackett, March 2008: BBC Sport; Retrieved on 2 April 2008
  13. "Sir Alex Ferguson on FA misconduct charge": from a report in the Daily Telegraph; Retrieved on 2 April 2008

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