Trio of Lancashire match officials making the step up

Three Lancashire referees have got the Premier League in their sights after taking a big step up the promotion ladder.

By Andy Sykes
Tuesday, 18th August 2020, 4:45 pm

Michael Salisbury, Leigh Doughty and Natalie Aspinall will officiate in the SkyBet Championship next season as Select Group 2 officials after being rewarded for fine seasons in League One and League Two.

Salisbury, 35, refereed the behind-closed-doors League Two Play-off final between Northampton and Exeter, with Doughty acting as fourth official and Aspinall the reserve assistant referee.

All three finished high on their respective merit tables and underwent a rigorous selection process before being chosen.

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Penwortham referee Michael Salisbury will officiate in the Championship

Penwortham-based Salisbury, son of fellow Football League referee Graham Salisbury, is now raring to go at the higher level with the Premier League now just one step away.

“I’ve been hoping for this for a number of years but it was a great feeling to get that phone call,” said the father-of-two, a PE teacher at Parklands High in Chorley.

“Refereeing in the Championship carries more profile with it being a bigger stage but I’m just looking forward to the start of the season at the higher level. I’ve been an assistant referee on the Premier League before but the dream is still to referee at that level too.” Doughty’s rise up the ranks is particularly remarkable with his latest promotion his fourth in as many seasons.

The 30-year-old father-of-two from Freckleton was in the gym when he got a call from former Premier League referee Alan Wiley, director of Select Group 2.

Referee Michael Salisbury shows Exeter City's Dean Moxey (hidden) the red card during the League Two Play-Off final at Wembley Stadium

“I saw it was Alan ringing so I ran outside and answered the call still out of breath,” said Doughty, who also teaches PE, at Carr Hill High in Kirkham.

“It was a really proud moment and I just can’t wait to get going now.”

Mother-of-two Aspinall, 38, is no stranger to the big stage having acted as an assistant referee at the Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2015.

“I was over the moon to get the news,” said the Blackpool-born former Preston College tutor. “It was a long interview process but I am glad all my hard work and preparation has paid off.”

She will continue to operate as an assistant referee on the Women’s Super League alongside her Championship duties and is eyeing selection for the next Women’s Euros, which has been put back a year to 2022 due to Covid 19.

The new Championship season is due to begin on September 12.

In other promotions, Liam Marshall (Garstang) and Michael Crusham (Wigan) will operate on the National League North – which includes AFC Fylde and Chorley – after successful seasons on the Northern Premier League.