Rebecca Welch is set to be the first ever woman referee to be involved in a Premier League game this weekend.
She has had a fast rise up the officiating ladder over the past year, with Welch taking charge of Birmingham City vs Preston North End in January, becoming the first female official to referee a Championship game in the process.
After beginning refereeing in 2010, Welch combined it with her work in the NHS in an admin role until 2019 when she decided to go full-time.
Welch has consistently broken records as she was also the first woman to referee an EFL match when she took charge of Harrogate Town vs Port Vale in League Two in 2021.
Rebecca Welch will be the first ever woman referee to be involved in a Premier League game
Welch – who refereed at the Women’s World Cup – is fourth official for Fulham vs Man United
However, her chances of progressing at the tournament were hindered by England’s run to the final, before they ultimately lost to Spain 1-0.
Welch’s appearance on the touchline on Saturday will cap a staggering rise given she was refereeing in the National League until two years ago, combining that with her work in the women’s game.
She has been seen officiating several games across the EFL so far this season.
Welch was the first female to officiate in the EFL when she took charge of Harrogate vs Port Vale in 2021 in League Two
The promotion of Welch is also the latest example of PGMOL advancing diversity, with Bhupinder Singh Gill the first Sikh-Punjabi to be an assistant referee in the top flight this year
The promotion of Welch is also the latest example of PGMOL advancing diversity among officials.
Back in January, Bhupinder Singh Gill was the first Sikh-Punjabi to be an assistant referee in the top flight when Southampton played Nottingham Forest.
Several other young and promising referees have also quickly risen through the ranks in recent times.
For example, Sam Barrott – who was in charge of Bournemouth’s controversial victory over Burnley on Saturday – had only refereed 10 games in the Championship before being promoted to the Premier League at the age of 30.