Rebecca Welch’s historic appointment to officiate a Premier League match has been welcomed by Newcastle boss Eddie Howe.

The 40-year-old Welch will become the first female referee in top-flight history when she takes charge of the Fulham v Burnley match on December 23.

Welch was also fourth official for the Cottagers’ home game against Manchester United last month.

Howe applauded the decision to appoint Welch and said: “I think it’s a great moment.

“For me, it’s got to be based on ability, not gender, ability to referee and I fully support it.”

Sam Allison will become the first black man to referee a top-flight match in 15 years when he takes charge of the Sheffield United v Luton game on Boxing Day.

Kick It Out also welcomed the news of Welch and Allison’s appointments.

“Referees up and down the land are waking up this morning and thinking there are no barriers to get to the top,” the anti-discrimination charity posted on X.

“Visibility matters. Well done to @FA_PGMOL and organisations like @BAMERef for helping to create those journeys. There are many more inspirational stories to be told.”