Allison to be First Black Referee in Premier League for 15 years

Sam Allison will become the first Black referee to officiate in the Premier League for 15 years tonight, and only the second ever.

The 42-year-old former firefighter will take charge of Sheffield United's Boxing Day fixture with Luton Town - marking the first time a Black man will officiate a match in England's top division since Uriah Rennie in 2008.

BAMRef - which offers guidance, support, mentoring and counselling to Black, Asian and mixed heritage referees - said: "We welcome this appointment.

"It is a further step in the right direction towards refereeing reflecting society and the playing contingent within football.

"It is also the culmination of years of hard work by BAMRef members. We hope to work with Howard Webb (Professional Game Match Officials Board chief) to identify and progress more black officials to the top flight."

Dan Forbes, at level four in the referee pathway and working for BAMRef, said: "Sam is going to be under the spotlight massively, he knows that and he will relish the opportunity."

"It's been a long time coming for him and it's been a long-time ambition as well," he added. "He totally understands the pressures.

"Sam absolutely deserves to be there, he's one of the top referees in the country and there's no doubt Sam will deliver and fly our flag.

"We've also got some other top referees coming through - Lisa Rashid, Ruben Ricardo, Aji Ajibola - that deserve the opportunity.

"This is just the starting point. This is not the end. It's huge, it's also well overdue. The impact will be huge. If you can't see it, it's a lot harder to be it."