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Premier League to have its first female referee

todayDecember 14, 2023 4

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Premier League to have its first female referee

Rebecca Welch is set to become the first woman to referee a Premier League match after being appointed to officiate Fulham versus Burnley on Saturday 23 December.

Welch, 40, has long been a trailblazer in men’s football, having become the first woman to be appointed to referee an EFL (English Football League) match in April 2021 and the first to take charge of a men’s FA Cup fixture in January 2022.

Sam Allison, 42, will also become the first black official to referee a Premier League game since Uriah Rennie in 2008 when he takes charge of Sheffield United versus Luton on Boxing Day.

The Premier League said on its website on Thursday: “History will be made when Fulham host Burnley on Saturday 23 December, with Rebecca Welch becoming the Premier League’s first woman referee.”

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Welch was also appointed as the fourth official for Manchester United’s 1-0 victory at Fulham in November, becoming the first woman to take on the role in the Premier League.

Welch seen showing a yellow card to Middlesbrough's Hayden Hackney during the Sky Bet Championship match against Birmingham City in October

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Welch seen showing a yellow card to Middlesbrough’s Hayden Hackney during the Sky Bet Championship match against Birmingham City in October

She has also previously refereed in the National League, while she regularly officiates in the Women’s Super League (WSL) and appeared at the Women’s World Cup earlier this year.

Welch, from Washington in Tyne and Wear, became a referee in 2010, balancing the role alongside her job in the NHS.

Meanwhile Allison makes the step up to the Premier League after several seasons in the EFL.

Allison during the Emirates FA Cup third round match between Forest Green Rovers v Birmingham City in January

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Allison during the Emirates FA Cup third round match between Forest Green Rovers v Birmingham City in January

He was promoted to the Championship at the start of the 2023/24 season.

Allison played for Swindon, Bristol City, Bournemouth and Exeter before beginning his refereeing career while also working as a firefighter.

He turned to full-time refereeing and officiated in the Football League from 2020, where he has taken charge of more than 100 matches.

He was the fourth official for the Premier League game between Brighton and Chelsea in October last year.

Bhupinder Singh Gill became the first Sikh-Punjabi to officiate in the Premier League in January

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Bhupinder Singh Gill became the first Sikh-Punjabi to officiate in the Premier League in January

In January, Bhupinder Singh Gill became the first Sikh-Punjabi to officiate in the Premier League when he was appointed as an assistant referee for Nottingham Forest’s trip to Southampton.

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The appointments come as the FA has pledged to increase diversity among officials.

It hopes to recruit 1,000 new referees from diverse backgrounds in the next three years.​​​​​​

Written by: Newsroom

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