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Sam Allison is the firefighter set to become the Football League's first black referee for 11 years

Sam Allison is set to become the first black Football League referee for 11 years.

Allison will step up into League One and League Two this season and become the first black referee in the Football League since Uriah Rennie in 2009 - and only the second ever. 

The 38-year-old is a firefighter by trade and previously played as a semi-professional footballer but he told Adil Ray and Charlotte Hawkins how proud he was to act as a role model for any other black people considering becoming referees.

"Sometimes I'm a strong believer of 'if you can't see it, you can't be it' and if there hasn't been anyone since Uriah Rennie in 2009, it's always going to be difficult to believe that you can get to the top," he said.

"For me it was a catalyst to try and be as successful as I can be and try and use negativity in order to be successful."

Despite refereeing being a notoriously difficult role, with constant abuse from players and fans, Sam said it was his passion for the game and the opportunity to really make a difference which put him on the path to becoming a ref.

"For me it was the case of trying to make a difference and that there's no one who looks like me in the refereeing pyramid. My passion for football is so high and I thought, 'am I in control of my own destiny?' The support from the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) and FA to embark on my career has been fantastic," he said.

"Having got to be a Football League referee which I am still smiling about now and you've got to pinch yourself because you can't believe it, it seems so far in the distant when you first start off. But that was more trying to be a role model and help people because if they can see me doing it, obviously I can help and support on that journey at the same time."

When it comes to racism in the game, Sam said he had been given the support to combat any racism he may experience: "The support I've had from the PGMOL and the FA has been phenomenal. I can't thank them enough in my whole journey because you get ups and downs in refereeing because you're not always the most popular but the support has been fantastic.

"You need that support in general because it is tough out there. If you can't always see it you need that positivity to feel like you can be successful."

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