Ref Watch: Peterborough United (A)

Assistants: Joseph Stokes and Hristo Karaivanov
Fourth Official: Ryan Whitaker

In a first for a Football league match involving Lincoln City, we will have a female referee this weekend. Male or female, the referee does not have a lot to live up to compared to our last visit to Posh, when John Busby was utterly conned by a horrific dive, and we lost a 3-0 lead. Isn’t it ironic that I’ve linked his name to an article saying his decision should be forgotten but never will be?

Rebecca Welch is a third-year Football League referee: her first men’s game in the Football League was at the end of the 2020/21 season when she officiated the tie between Port Vale and Harrogate Town. Her promotion to the Football League came as she was officiating her third year at National League level, as well as officiating Women’s Super League matches. Last season, she took control of 17 fixtures in the EFL and various competitions, issuing a single red card to George Friend as Birmingham City (with Mark Kennedy as assistant) were beaten 1-0 by Plymouth (with Jordono Garrick in the starting XI). That was the first time a female referee had taken charge of an FA Cup match.

Rebecca Welch to referee France v Spain

Over the summer, Welch officiated three Euro 2022 matches, but this will be her first League One match of the current season. Of her 17 outings last season, four were at League One level. In those games, she ranked 46th for fouls per game (20), 58th for fouls awarded per tackle, and 39th for yellows per game at 3.25. That marks her out as an official that allows a free-flowing game of football, which is what we all want to see. As yet, she hasn’t awarded a Football League penalty nor shown a red card in League One or League Two.

Welch came to refereeing quite late, only deciding at 27 she wanted to be an official. “I became a referee quite late,” she told “I was 27 when I decided I wanted to be a referee. One of my really good friends was a referee, and she used to referee us at weekends. I wasn’t the best behaved as a player! I thought that if I trained to be a referee, I’d know a little bit more about the rules.”