Burnley boss Vincent Kompany welcomes Rebecca Welch appointment for Fulham clash

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Vincent Kompany has welcomed referee Rebecca Welch’s “milestone” appointment and insists his Burnley players will not modify their behaviour when she takes charge of their game with Fulham.

Welch will break new ground once again at Craven Cottage on Saturday, the 40-year-old from Tyne and Wear having in November become the first female to act as fourth official in a Premier League match.

“It’s certainly a benchmark and milestone,” Burnley boss Kompany said of Welch’s top-flight bow in the middle.

“I think she’ll take great pride in having done it herself. There’s a lot of women – in general, but in the game as well specifically – who will see this as a way to achieve at the highest level.

“I am always pro any kind of extension anyway because what it does is widen the pool of talent.

“We need access to all the available talent, the best referees in the best league in the world.”

Kompany insists the attitude of his players will be the same at Fulham as if a male referee was in the middle.

There’s a lot of women – in general, but in the game specifically – who will see this as a way to achieve at the highest level

He said: “I wouldn’t allow it (be different) anyway, but in general it shouldn’t. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I don’t know.

“But in the end we want to win our games, the opposition want to win their games, and it’s about the players on the pitch.

“It shouldn’t be really about the official or the manager. It should be about the players and, in that sense, I can’t see why we wouldn’t have that normality.

“Of course the story is bigger and deserves to be bigger, but once the whistle blows every actor on the day will want the players to be highlighted.”

There is another landmark refereeing appointment on Boxing Day as Sam Allison will become the first black man to officiate a top-flight game in 15 years.

Allison will take charge of Sheffield United’s home game against Luton, following in the footsteps of Uriah Rennie who was the last black referee to take charge of a Premier League game in 2008.

Asked if it was a sign of changing times in football, Kompany said: “I think so. They are little milestones, but what you have to look at is not necessarily the person itself.

“Behind it there is a lot of people who don’t think it’s possible and that they can’t achieve it. By seeing those examples they will say ‘I could be the next one or do something positive’.

“To give access to opportunities with dreams is important at every level of society.

“What I would love to see is multi-coloured and multi-ethnic boardrooms that make decisions about what we’re going to discuss during the week.”

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