In a historic move for British football, Sunny Singh Gill is set to become the first British South Asian to officiate a Premier League match. This weekend, Gill will lead the game between Crystal Palace and Luton, a landmark announcement made by the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).

Gill’s journey to the top tier of English football began at a young age; he first refereed a Sunday League match when he was just 17. His notable achievements include, alongside his brother Bhupinder, becoming the first British South Asian duo to officiate the same Championship match in April 2021. This familial tradition of breaking barriers in football officiating runs deep, as their father, Jarnail Singh, was the pioneering EFL referee to wear a turban during a match, setting a precedent when he took charge of the Bristol Rovers vs. Bury game in August 2004. Jarnail Singh’s illustrious career spanned almost 200 EFL matches until 2010.

In reflections shared on the Premier League’s website, Sunny expressed his aspiration to inspire the younger generation, highlighting the significance of representation in sports officiating. He hopes that his and his brother’s achievements will encourage Asian parents to believe in a future in sports for their children, breaking conventional barriers.

Singh Gill, who also serves part-time as a prison officer, ventured into professional refereeing with his EFL debut in a League Two match between Northampton and Hartlepool in August 2022. His passion for football was nurtured from a young age, deeply influenced by his father’s refereeing career. The brothers’ love for the game was evident even during their school years, with Sunny recalling how their peers would recognise their father on “Match of the Day” during his Premier League assignments.

The journey was not without its challenges. Despite an early scouting by QPR and subsequent trials, Sunny faced setbacks that led him to temporarily step away from refereeing. However, inspired and encouraged by his father, he returned to the field with renewed vigour, progressing rapidly through the ranks. His career is a testament to resilience and determination, acknowledging the additional scrutiny that comes with being a minority in the sport. Sunny’s aim is not just to succeed but to be a role model, emphasising the importance of resilience in facing and overcoming challenges.

His brother Bhupinder also carved out his own piece of history by becoming the first Sikh-Punjabi to serve as a Premier League assistant referee earlier in January 2023.

Sunny Singh Gill’s story is one of inspiration, challenging norms, and breaking new ground. As he steps onto the field this weekend, he carries not just his family’s legacy, but the hopes and dreams of countless young British South Asians aspiring to make their mark in the world of football.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here