Sunny Singh Gill to officiate Northampton Town vs Hartlepool in League Two on Saturday and will become first British South Asian to referee an English Football League game since his dad Jarnail Singh over a decade ago; Jarnail Singh is the first turbaned referee in league football history
Wednesday 10 August 2022 10:37, UK
Sunny Singh Gill will take charge of Northampton Town vs Hartlepool on Saturday and become the first British South Asian to referee a league game since his dad Jarnail more than a decade ago.
Jarnail Singh is the first turbaned referee in the history of English league football and took charge of more than 150 games across the divisions between 2004 and 2010. Jarnail retired from league officiating in 2011 and now advises the Football Association, but still occasionally referees in the Combined Counties League.
Sunny is the most senior referee of British South Asian heritage in the country and joined the highest-ranked Black referee Sam Allison to preside over the League Two game between Swindon Town and Leyton Orient in April in a landmark moment for officiating in English football.
Sky Sports News understands Jarnail Singh will be in the stands on Saturday to watch his son make his refereeing debut in the EFL.
There promises to be an added sense of celebration around the game, with the match taking place during South Asian Heritage Month, which ends on August 17.
Sunny said he has his sights set on the Premier League following the announcement that he would emulate his father after earning promotion to the EFL National Group of match referees.
"To follow in my father's footsteps and become the next South Asian, and Sikh-Punjabi, to be promoted as an EFL referee is a proud moment," he told Sky Sports News.
"A decade on from my dad refereeing in the EFL, I have achieved my dream and followed in his footsteps.
"It's been a lot of hard work this year training away from the pitch, improving in every department with the help of the [refereeing body] PGMOL and my coaches.
"I now want to set more goals and fulfil my dream of becoming the first South Asian Premier League referee."
Sunny is a prison officer at HMP Feltham and started refereeing at 15 and news of his appointment comes just five days after fellow Sikh-Punjabi Roop Kaur Bath was given a first-team debut by West Ham Women manager Paul Konchesky in a pre-season friendly against Hashtag United, aged just 16 years and 11 days.
Last season, Sky Sports News revealed Jarnail's sons Bhups and Sunny Singh Gill were making history as the first pair of British South Asians ever to preside over a fixture in the Sky Bet Championship.
Jarnail told Sky Sports News back in February that his boys are giving it "110 per cent" to get to the very top of the game.
Former Premier League match official Howard Webb, who refereed the 2010 World Cup final, told Sky Sports News last year that Sunny and Bhups have all the attributes required to reach the very top of their profession.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to see the progress that Sunny and Bhups have made in the game. I've had my eye on them for quite some time," said Webb.
"I go back with their dad for quite some time, we worked in the Football League together. And Jarnail Singh, in addition to being a really, really good referee, is just a wonderful guy. He was always a pleasure to work with.
"They [Bhups and Sunny] are athletic, they know how to manage people, all these skills that you need to be successful. If you don't have them, you don't survive in the professional game. These guys have done more than survive, they've excelled and I think will continue to do so.
"Both have gone through those hard yards of local football and then progressing through the different levels and probably feeling like at some point they want to pack in because it's not been an easy day at the office but they've persevered through those difficult times.
"I know their father will be so proud. They've made good progress and they're still on the upward trajectory. There's still more for them to achieve. I'm sure they'll enjoy it every step of the way."
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