Sam Allison: Referee 'proud' of promotion to EFL

By Mandeep SangheraBBC Sport
Sam Allison
Sam Allison started out as a referee in 2011

Referee Sam Allison says he is "really proud" after being promoted to the Football League by the Professional Game Match Officials Limited.

The last black referee in English football's top four divisions was Uriah Rennie, who retired in 2009.

"Apart from the obvious of just being excited and overwhelmed, it also feels exhausting," said Allison, 39.

"You work really hard throughout your career and journey to get to where you thought you may never ever get to."

Rennie was a referee in the EFL before reaching the Premier League. He retired in 2009, with the EFL's last non-white referee - Jarnail Singh - retiring in 2010.

Singh's son, Bhupinder, is an assistant referee and has been elevated to the Championship following the promotion process by the PGMOL - the body responsible for refereeing appointments in English leagues.

"To get this opportunity is fantastic," Allison told BBC Sport.

"For me it's one of the first times in a long while that I've enjoyed the moment, because one of the negatives I have about myself is that I'm so self-critical, as I feel that I want to make such a difference.

"For me, one of the biggest drivers to be successful is to try to get to the highest level I can, to be a role model, to break down any barriers, if there are any, and to challenge the status quo in society to say 'we can be good referees too'."

'I'd be lying if I said there wasn't extra pressure'

Allison is the cousin of former Jamaica midfielder Fitzroy Simpson, who had spells at Swindon Town, Manchester City and Portsmouth.

A former semi-professional player, Allison combines working for the fire service with his refereeing career, which he started in 2011.

"I'd be lying if I said there wasn't extra pressure being a black referee," he said. "There is pressure in life, just in general, being a black male in society.

"In regards to football, of course, there is going to be pressure but I think the skills and support you have will help you deal with that pressure.

"It's good to have pressure sometimes, we have to thrive on it."

Allison admitted he "never" thought he would be a referee as he "wasn't the quietest of players on the pitch towards match officials".

He praised the support provided to him by the FA, PGMOL, colleagues and family since beginning his journey to becoming a referee, and said he has not faced any issues as a black official.

"For me the aim now is to learn and develop as much as I can, and try to be the best Football League referee I can be," said Allison.

"You want to try to aim for the stars but sometimes you have to be realistic that it is not going to be easy to be a Premier League referee.

"You have to have that humility. Yes, you've been successful and I'll have a shandy tonight, but I'm fourth man at Bristol Rovers on Saturday in a friendly against Exeter so I've got to make sure I'm ready and professional.

"It's now gearing up for when the season starts and making sure I'm ready for the first game of the season."

He added: "I don't just do refereeing for me. I try to do it for everybody else that looks like me, my family and to try and be involved in the game.

"It's fantastic to be involved in the game and, to achieve being a Football League referee, I'm very happy."

Top Stories