Rebecca Welch will become the ’s first female referee when she takes charge of Fulham vs Burnley on 23 December.
Welch has already made her mark in the men’s game, becoming the first woman to be appointed to referee an EFL match in April 2021 and the first to take charge of a men’s FA Cup fixture in January 2022.
The 40-year-old served as a fourth official during Manchester United’s win over Fulham in November and will now take charge of the pre-Christmas fixture at Craven Cottage as the Premier League breaks new ground.
She has also officiated extensively in the Women’s Super League and Women’s Champions League having also featured in the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in the summer.
Welch became a referee in 2010, balancing her new role alongside her job with the NHS before taking up officiating permanently.
Sam Allison meanwhile will become the first black referee to officiate in the English top flight since Uriah Rennie 15 years ago when he oversees the Boxing Day clash between Sheffield United and Luton.
Allison, a former firefighter, was promoted to the Football League in 2020, moving up to the Championship at the start of the 2023/24 season.
In July, the FA unveiled plans to recruit 50 per cent more referees from ‘historically under-represented’ backgrounds by 2026.
English football’s governing body is targeting an increase of 1,000 women referees and 1,000 black or Asian referees at all levels of football in three years.
In January this year, Bhupinder Singh Gill became the first Sikh-Punjabi to officiate in the Premier League, serving as assistant referee for the clash between Nottingham Forest and Southampton.
Howard Webb, head of the PGMOL which oversees Premier League officials, told Sky Sports: ‘I’m excited to see the appointment of Rebecca Welch to her first Premier League referee’s appointment and, on Boxing Day, we’ll see Sam Allison taking charge of his first game.
‘They’re both part of the PGMOL’s development group. It’s an initiative tied into the elite referee development plan, which has been in place for a couple of years now to fast track talented officials to the pathway.
‘We’ve not seen a female take charge of a Premier League game ever before so it is significant. Then Sam being the first Black official since Uriah Rennie – an ex-colleague of mine – [which is] down to the quality of his performances in recent weeks in the Football League and the Championship. Both appointments are well deserved.’
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