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Premiership referee wins appeal over 'retirement' at 49

In a case that could set an important precedent, Walton and his Premier League colleague Uriah Rennie, along with Football League official Paul Taylor, appealed to the referees' body after they were initially told they would not be retained beyond the 'retirement age' of 49.

And although it is not yet clear whether Rennie and Taylor have been given the go-ahead to carry on next season, Sportsmail understands Northamptonshire-based Walton, who celebrates his 49th birthday in October, has won his appeal and will enjoy at least one more campaign at the top level.

The ruling will be of particular interest to current referees such as the high profile Steve Bennett, who at 47, will soon be facing his last season.

He wants to continue beyond his 49th birthday in January 2010.

The Professional Game Board can dispense with referees on the grounds of poor performance but, after an EU ruling of October 2006, it is much harder for them to end an official's career on the grounds of age.

Referees are assessed every time they take the field and the results are collated over the course of a season.

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