Preston official Michael Salisbury will referee in Premier League next season

Preston football referee Michael Salisbury will officiate in the Premier League next season after a whirlwind debut year in the Championship.

The 36-year-old former teacher is one of four new faces on the Select Group 1 ranks with Jarred Gillett, John Brooks and Tony Harrington also gaining promotion.

Father-of-two Salisbury, from Penwortham, started refereeing in the local leagues in Preston in 2001 after being inspired by his dad Graham, who has just retired after 588 Football League games.

Michael said: “I was hopeful rather than expecting to get the phone call but it was great to hear those words when the call came at lunchtime.

Michael Salisbury will officiate in the Premier League next season

“It’s going to be new getting to grips with VAR but I’m just pleased to get the opportunity.

“Dad was chuffed to bits for me especially as he set me off on this path all those years ago.”

Salisbury has already officiated in the Premier League as an assistant referee before climbing the ladder with the whistle.

The former PE teacher went full time as a ref last summer after leaving his role at Parklands High School in Chorley.

He impressed during the 2020/21 season and was named referee for the delayed FA Vase final at Wembley between Hebburn Town and Consett and the League One play-off semi-final second leg between Sunderland and Lincoln at the Stadium of Light.

He added: “I have some experience as an assistant on the Premier League and that has put me in a really good position to push on as a referee. Every game in the Premier League is analysed and scrutinised by fans and the media to a different level than you may see in the Championship but I can’t wait for the challenge.”

Salisbury will be the second Preston-based referee to officiate in the middle in the Premier League.

Neil Swarbrick, a family friend of the Salisburys, retired from refereeing at the end of the 2017/18 

Sheffield-based Tom Bramall, who refereed Preston’s home league game against Luton Town in March, and Oxfordshire’s John Busby will referee in the Championship next season after impressive seasons in the Football League.

Rebecca Welch has become the first woman to join the Football League ranks.

She is one of four National League Premier referees to earn promotion, along with Simon Mather, Andrew Kitchen and Tom Reeves and will operate in League One and League Two next season.