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Rebecca Welch discusses her refereeing journey ahead of historic Premier League debut

Thursday 21 Dec 2023
Rebecca Welch will referee the Premier League game between Fulham and Burnley on Saturday 23 December 2023

Rebecca Welch will make history on Saturday 23 December 2023, when she becomes the first woman to referee a Premier League game.

The Tyne and Wear-based official was appointed to take charge of the top-flight game between Fulham and Burnley at Craven Cottage earlier this month, having previously officiated in the EFL and at the top level of women's football. 

It's the latest step for Welch in her career in the men's game, having previously been the first woman referee to officiate in the EFL in 2021 and the Emirates FA Cup third round when she oversaw the tie between Birmingham City and Plymouth Argyle in January 2022

Having started her refereeing career in 2010, she's been a mainstay in the Barclays Women's Super League and also refereed the Adobe Women's FA Cup Final at Wembley in both 2017 and 2020 as well as on the international stage in the 2022 UEFA Women's EURO and the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Welch becomes the latest in a growing line of women trailblazers in refereeing, which began in the 1990s when Wendy Toms was the first female to officiate in the EFL and then the Premier League as an assistant referee.

Since then, the likes of Sian Massey-Ellis and Natalie Aspinall have also been appointed to games in the EFL and Premier League as well as at an elite level of women's football.

And in a throwback to earlier in her career, we've unearthed a creative video from the archives featuring Rebecca talking about her refereeing pathway from grassroots level in the North East...

Joining Welch on duty in December is also Sam Allison, who will become the first Black official to referee in the Premier League since 2008 when he oversees the Boxing Day match between Sheffield United and Luton Town at Bramall Lane. 

The 42 year old, a former player with the likes of Swindon Town, AFC Bournemouth and Exeter City, was first appointed to the EFL list in 2020, becoming the fifth Black official to have refereed at that level and has since overseen more than 100 EFL games.

By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels