Wiltshire Referees, Referee Pathway

From Grassroots to Greatness

Wiltshire FA Referee Pathway

Wiltshire Referee Highlights Available Pathway

Sam Allison became Wiltshire’s newest top-flight referee late last year, showcasing the pathway available to grassroots referees.

Wiltshire referee, Sam Allison reached the highest level of domestic refereeing at the end of 2023, taking charge of the Boxing Day Premier League clash between Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

In doing so, not only did Sam become the latest Wiltshire match official to officiate in the Premier League, he also became only the league’s second-ever black male referee, and the first since Sheffield & Hallamshire’s Uriah Rennie in 2008. It was an appointment that made headlines nationally; however, for Wiltshire, it also highlighted the pathway available to match officials developing with Wiltshire FA.

Like all referees, Sam’s journey commenced as a grassroots referee locally. Through dedication and commitment, as Sam’s experience grew, so too did the opportunities to achieve promotion which enables officials to referee at higher levels of the football pyramid.

Sam said, “Being in the middle on Boxing Day at the Luton v Sheffield United fixture was the pinnacle of my refereeing career so far. 

“When I made it to the EFL, I set myself the next milestone, to make it to the Premier League so I’m pleased the hard work paid off. 

“I hope my journey inspires others and demonstrates that if you believe, you can. We need to continue widening and diversifying the pool of talent to ensure we can service the game, so I encourage anyone thinking about becoming a referee to do it, the pathway is proving successful.”

Sam follows in the footsteps of fellow Premier League official Simon Hooper, who also referees top-flight fixtures in England, and Adam Nunn, who is a Premier League assistant referee and formed part of the English refereeing team at UEFA EURO 2020. 

Away from the traditional format, Wiltshire also celebrates Olly Ballinger who officiates Futsal at the highest level and is named on FIFA’s list of Futsal referees. 

Demonstrating the clear pathway, Ella Broad, Referee Development Officer at Wiltshire FA started her refereeing career in 2017, at the age of 14. After quickly making her way through the levels, in 2019 Ella was invited to join the FA Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE), a programme that offers quality training, education and development opportunities. Continuing to progress, Ella has recently been appointed as the referee in the Adobe Women’s FA Cup fifth round in the Chelsea FC Women v Crystal Palace Women fixture which took place on Sunday 11th February 2024.

All of Wiltshire’s referees’ first steps came through engaging with Wiltshire FA and enrolling onto one of the FA Referees Courses, which are open to people aged 14 and over. Once completed, participants are assessed over five games, with guidance from Wiltshire FA, before being awarded their first qualification. This allows new referees the opportunity to commence refereeing mini soccer, 9v9 and 11v11 football.

Referees are vital to the game, Wiltshire FA work closely with all referees locally to support experience and development, while also providing mentoring, support and access to continued training. Assessment continues, and each season provides opportunities for referees to be promoted, with officials at Level 3 and above having the opportunity to oversee matches in the National League and English Football League.

Olly Ballinger, Simon Hooper, Adam Nunn, Sam Allison, Ella Broad