Sam Allison: Who is the history-making referee?

26 Dec 2023
Sheffield United v Luton Town - Premier League

Find out about the Premier League's first black referee since 2008

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Premier League history was made in Sheffield United 2-3 Luton Town on Boxing Day, when Sam Allison became the Premier League's first black referee since Uriah Rennie, who officiated in the competition for 11 years until 2008.

Until 2020, Allison - who took up refereeing 12 years ago - was the only black match official in the top four English divisions and the first since Rennie.

Sheffield United v Luton Town - Premier League
Early career

The 42-year-old enjoyed a successful playing career before turning his attention to refereeing.

Having started his journey with Swindon Town, Allison moved on to Bristol City, AFC Bournemouth and Exeter City, even making a handful of appearances for England schoolboys and representing Great Britain.

Allison had a dual career as a match official and a firefighter, before turning his attention to officiating on a full-time basis after the introduction of the Elite Referee Development Plan.

Following his promotion in 2020, he became the fifth black referee to officiate in the EFL, following in the footsteps of Rennie, Trevor Parkes, Phil Prosser and Joe Ross. He has taken charge of over 100 matches in the EFL.

Speaking in March, Allison said: “I love football so much; it’s in my blood and it’s innate. I’d do anything to be involved in the game. Unfortunately, I didn’t reach the pinnacles as a football player but hopefully one day I can do it as a referee.”

His first taste of Premier League action came in October 2022, when he was fourth official in the fixture between Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea.

Allison was promoted to officiate in the Championship for the 2023/24 season.

His big moment on Boxing Day came just three days after Rebecca Welch became the first ever woman to referee a Premier League match, on Saturday.

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