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Sunny Singh Gill becomes first-ever Asian to ref Premier League game



Sunny Singh Gill made history at Selhurst Park on Saturday as he became the first-ever British South Asian to referee in the Premier League.

Following in the illustrious footsteps of his father, Jarnail Singh Gill, Sunny’s ascent to the Premier League refereeing ranks – following the Crystal Palace vs Luton Town match on Saturday – added another chapter to the family’s remarkable legacy.

Jarnail, the pioneering turbaned referee, blazed a trail of his own, officiating close to 200 matches across various divisions from 2004 to 2010.


Speaking to BBC Sport ahead of the match, Jarnail said: “Proud isn’t the word. As a parent, we all wish our children to exceed in life [beyond] whatever you’ve achieved, so it’s not just with Sunny but Bhupinder as well. They’ve both exceeded our expectations and it’s just a very proud moment for the family, friends, the community and the Sikh religion. I’ll be honest, it’s very emotional.”

Jarnail wants his son to be a role model for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) officials and added: “Hopefully when Sunny walks out and officiates on Saturday, other members of diverse groups will say, ‘if Sunny can do it – he’s one of us, so can we’. He’s a great role model, as is his brother, and other match officials this year when you think about [assistant referee] Akil Howson, who has been getting Premier League games all year, Sam Allison and Rebecca Welch as well as others from minority groups that have been given similar opportunities lower down the pyramid. It’s early days. Let’s see what happens. The most important thing is that Sunny’s got it, but then it doesn’t stop there.”

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Sunny’s journey to the Premier League commenced with his promotion from the National League to the EFL in 2022, facilitated by the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL). The PGMOL’s Elite Referee Development Program (ERDP) provided the platform for Sunny to pursue his refereeing aspirations full-time, marking a pivotal moment as he transitioned from his role as a prison officer to dedicate himself entirely to officiating. Whereas his brother, Bhupinder Singh Gill’s role as the Premier League’s first Sikh-Punjabi assistant referee in January 2023 adds another layer to the family’s impactful presence in English football.


Sunny’s historic achievement adds to the recent strides made in promoting diversity and representation within English football’s officiating ranks. Earlier in the season, Sam Allison broke barriers as the first coloured referee to officiate a Premier League match in 15 years, while Rebecca Welch’s appointment marked a significant milestone as the first female referee in the competition’s history.


Sunny first officiated a Sunday League match when he was just 17! And it has taken 22 years to reach the pinnacle of English football. His journey exemplifies resilience, dedication, and the enduring pursuit of excellence. His presence not only enriches the fabric of English football but also heralds a new era of representation and opportunity for generations to come.

Culled from:

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