'It’s very exciting' - Washington’s Rebecca Welch to make history when she takes charge of English Football League game

Washington’s Rebecca Welch has spoken of her delight after becoming the first female referee to be appointed to take charge of an English Football League game.

By Richard Mennear
Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 3:58 pm

Welch is set to make history and officiate the League Two game between Harrogate and Port Vale on Easter Monday.

Welch has officiated seven National League games this season, but will create history by refereeing the match at the The EnviroVent Stadium next week.

The 37-year-old, from Washington Durham, refereed the 2017 Women’s FA Cup final.

Referee Rebecca Welch during the Women's FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PA picture.

Welch told Sky Sports News: “I am still kind of trying to let it sink in at the minute. I got the news on Saturday and still haven’t come back down to earth.

“It’s very exciting, it is really good for me and the next steps of my career. I am very fortunate to be given this opportunity and really excited.”

Amy Fearn was the first woman to referee an EFL game as she came on as an injury replacement in the 2010 Championship game between Coventry and Nottingham Forest.

But Welch is the first to be given a game from the off.

She added: “My dad is my biggest fan so pre-Covid he came to every single game, he was over the moon.

"My mum doesn’t know a lot about football so she is excited but I don’t think she knows why she is excited.

"They are really proud so that is really nice.”

The appointment has been confirmed by the EFL.

Welch says she is looking to be the standard bearer for other women to follow.

Speaking on the governing body’s official website, she said: “Initially I wasn’t really aware of it being appointed as the first female referee. I was just given the appointment and I was over the moon but when you kind of reflect on it you think you’re the first woman ever to do this, so I’m extremely proud and my family’s extremely proud as well.

“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 so it definitely makes others down the pyramid look up and know that they can achieve the same.”