Referee Rebecca Welch's historic appointment welcomed by Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver has welcomed the historic decision to appoint a female referee to oversee his side's League Two clash with Port Vale.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 7:56 pm
Rebecca Welch refereed the 2020 Women's FA Cup Final match between Everton Women and Manchester City Women at Wembley Stadium. Picture: Getty Images

Rebecca Welch, 37, will become the first-ever woman to preside over an English Football League fixture when she takes charge of the Easter Monday showdown at Wetherby Road.

"I absolutely welcome the news," the Sulphurites chief told the Harrogate Advertiser.

"It is something that has probably taken too long to happen, to be honest.

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Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Matt Kirkham

"I think it is a good thing to see equality growing within the game. Both sexes should get the same opportunities.

"Referees and match officials shouldn't be judged on colour or sex or anything like that. It's about how well they perform. All I'm sure every team wants is a referee who is qualified and good in the role.

"There shouldn't be any more pressure on our referee on Monday because she is female and any decisions she makes cannot be judged based on her sex."

Back in 2010, Amy Fearn refereed part of a Championship game between Coventry City and Nottingham Forest, but she took over from an injured colleague after kick-off rather than being appointed as the match official.

Thus, Welch - who has worked in the National League for the past three seasons - was left delighted when she found out she was set to make history.

"I'm still trying to let it sink in. I got the news on Saturday and haven't come back down to earth yet," the County Durham-based referee told Sky Sports.

“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.

“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.”