Referee Rebecca Welch prepares to make history today by becoming first ever woman to officiate an EFL fixture from the start in Harrogate Town’s League Two clash against Port Vale
- Rebecca Welch has been appointed to oversee a League Two game from the off
- Welch, 37, will hold the whistle for Harrogate’s fixture against Port Vale today
- The decision was made by referee chiefs after impressive performance reviews
Referee Rebecca Welch is set to make history this afternoon by becoming the first ever woman to officiate an EFL fixture from the off.
Welch, 37, has been a regular fixture in the National League over the last three seasons – and also held the whistle for the Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley.
She will oversee Harrogate’s League Two game against Port Vale as the very first female to have been appointed to take charge of a game in the top four tiers.
Referee Rebecca Welch will today become the first woman to oversee an EFL tie from the start
The selection was given the green light by referee chiefs Mike Riley and Mike Jones after Welch impressed during performance reviews this season.
‘I got the news on Saturday and still haven’t come back down to earth,’ Welch admitted. ‘I’m very fortunate to have been given this opportunity.
‘I’ve always said, through all my promotions, I want to be appointed because I am in the top 10 match officials on that list.’
Welch, 37, has often refereed in the National League and impressed in performance reviews
Welch will become a pioneer despite Amy Fearn having refereed a Championship match in 2010.
Fearn, who became the first woman to take charge of an FA Cup game three years after, took up the mantle as an injury replacement for the final 15 minutes.
Having first begun officiating 11 years ago, Welch is now keen for female referees to be introduced in the Premier League within the next decade.
‘I do think it’s important to show that women who are in the top one per cent of their category can proceed to the next level,’ Welch added.
Welch will officiate Harrogate Town’s League Two clash against Port Vale at 3pm this afternoon
The appointment of Welch has made her hopeful that women will referee in the top flight soon
‘It definitely makes others down the pyramid look up and know that they can achieve the same.
‘If it’s not me, I’ve got no doubt in the next 10 to 15 years we will see a female referee in the Premier League.’
The appointment of Welch, from Washington in Tyne and Wear, follows closely after a number of other landmark firsts in football.
Stephanie Frappart and Kateryna Mozul both refereed men’s World Cup qualifiers last month.
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