The Premier League announced its newest referee assignments for later in December. It is bringing the first female referee ever and the first black referee in 15 years. It marks a watershed moment in the league’s history.

A first for the Premier League, Sam Allison will become the first Black official to officiate a game. The last was Uriah Rennie in 2008, breaking boundaries in the process. The Boxing Day encounter between Luton and Sheffield United will be his first as referee.

After playing in the EFL for a while, Allison was promoted to the English top division. He was already a Championship player when the 2023-24 season began. Another potential trailblazer is the first female referee to preside over a Premier League match, Rebecca Welch.

She will be in charge of Saturday’s match between Fulham and Burnley. That game is on Dec. 23. Welch will go down in history as the first female referee after doing the double in April 2021. That year, she refereed an English Football League (EFL) encounter. Then, in January 2022, she officiated a men’s FA Cup match.

Serving as the fourth official in Manchester United’s 1-0 triumph against Fulham in November was just another example of her ability. To her knowledge, she was the first female to ever hold such a position in the Premier League.

Who is Rebecca Welch?

She started her career as a referee in 2010. The 40-year-old achieved a major milestone in January when she became the first woman to oversee a Championship match. Additionally, Welch was chosen to officiate three matches at the Women’s World Cup. In 2018, she rose to the position of assistant referee in the EFL. She decided to swap roles and work her way up to men’s soccer.

From the 2018-19 season onwards, she oversaw both the men’s and women’s matches in the National League, the fifth division of English football. She served as the match referee for the Women’s FA Cup final in 2017 and 2020. After that, she climbed into the UEFA elite group of female referees. Additionally, she resigned from her position as an administrator for the National Health Service (NHS).

What did Howard Webb say about the latest Premier League referee assignments?

Under Howard Webb’s leadership, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) has been pushing for more representation of underrepresented groups among Premier League referees.

Bhupinder Singh Gill, who was recruited as an assistant referee in January, became the first Sikh-Punjabi referee in the Premier League as a result of this effort.

Howard Webb praised the achievement. He then emphasized the importance of diversity in the area.

“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.

“Credit to them they have delivered good performances in the Championship this season and deserve their opportunities due to their quality and the talent that they have.

“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. But of course, it also shows them as role models. It demonstrates that people can make it through the pathway.”