1. ITV Report

Twitter jokes about Howard Webb's Manchester United 'favouritism' upon his retirement

Howard Webb made history in 2010 as the first referee to take charge of the Champions League and World Cup finals in the same season. Photo: John Walton/PA Wire

Premier League referee Howard Webb's 25-year career as a football official has seen him officiate World Cup and Champions League finals - yet his retirement has been met with widespread ridicule.

Social media went into overdrive at the news the 43-year-old whistleblower is leaving the pitch to take a role as a technical director for referees - lampooning him for his apparent bias to Manchester United.

Fans of United's rivals have often claimed Howard Webb favoured the home team at Old Trafford. Credit: Gareth Copley/PA Archive

Webb, whose name was quickly trending on Twitter, has often been accused of being a Red Devil in disguise after delivering beneficial decisions on the pitch for United.

Those defending him may point out that Webb's era of refereeing simply coincided with, rather than contributed to, United's dominance of English football under Sir Alex Ferguson - while his peers have hailed him as the "foremost referee of his generation".

But the Twitter response to his announcement simply enjoyed poking fun at the departing official:

Despite the longstanding association, statistics suggest Webb's loyalty to United is a popular myth.

The referee handed out more yellow cards to United players than their opponents (84 to 82) and sent off an equal number of players (two reds for and against United) during his career officiating games involving the Red Devils.

Webb, who is a lifelong fan of Championship side Rotherham United, will take up a position as technical director of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).

Former United star Cristiano Ronaldo was dismissed by Howard Webb during a derby match with Manchester City in 2008. Credit: Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport