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Chelsea manager Emma Hayes says refs have to protected – not slaughtered

EMMA HAYES believes refs in the Women’s Super League must be protected — not slaughtered.

The Chelsea boss has defended league officials following her team’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United on Sunday thanks to a controversial penalty.

But Reds boss Casey Stoney slammed Jack Packman — the third replacement referee that day after two others pulled out.

WSL officials are appointed from a pool of National League refs.

The highest-ranked female referee, Rebecca Welch, juggles a 30-hour week in the NHS with officiating in the top tier of women’s football.

Hayes, who takes the Blues to Birmingham City tomorrow, said: “It’s easy to wallop the officials.

“They’re paid £120 a game. Make them full-time, stop having a go.

“As clubs, we need to put money into the issue.

“Conference refs aren’t good enough, they should be Championship level and make them full-time. Why are we half-arseing it?”

Meanwhile, ex-England striker Eni Aluko, 32, is leaving Juventus.

Premier League refs stunned after chief Mike Riley says he’s ‘well pleased with how VAR is operating’

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