Ref Watch: Fleetwood (A)

Rebecca Welch - Credit Graham Burrell

Assistants: Joe Simpson and Blake Antrobus
Fourth Official: Ollie Yates

We’ve only had Rebecca Welch once, that being our humbling against Peterborough United earlier in the season (not the 3-0 humbling, the 4-0 humbling). It wasn’t a good afternoon for the Imps and as I recall, although it was the first game Imps game to be officiated by a female assistant, which was a landmark for the Imps.

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.

City against Posh – Credit Graham Burrell

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 the assistant) were beaten 1-0 by Plymouth. That was the first time a female referee had taken charge of an FA Cup match. Over the summer, Welch officiated three Euro 2022 matches, but this will be her first League One match of the current season.

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.”

This will be the eighth game Welch has officiated in League One this season, and her stats are middling. She’s 29/60 for fouls per game, putting her right in the middle of the pack. She’s in a similar position for fouls per tackle (34/60) which suggests continuity in her decisions, and at 35/60 for yellow cards per game, she gives a similar ratio of cards to fouls as you’d expect. She hasn’t awarded a red as yet in League One, but she has given more penalties per game than most – she’s awarded three in her seven games, including one against us at London Road.