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Sunny Singh Gill: Trailblazing Sikh-Punjabi referee follows in ‘proud’ dad Jarnail’s footsteps in landmark EFL game

Jarnail Singh said he was more nervous than on his own EFL debut as he watched his son, Sunny, referee Northampton vs Hartlepool on a landmark day for officiating.

Trailblazing Sikh-Punjabi former league referee Singh was beaming with pride after watching on from the stands at Sixfields stadium as his eldest son, Sunny Singh Gill, followed in his footsteps by taking charge of his first EFL match.

Up until Saturday, Jarnail had been the last British South Asian to referee an EFL game after presiding over the League Two clash between Yeovil and Oldham back in 2010.

Jarnail told Sky Sports News: “I was probably feeling more nervous than I was when I made my EFL debut, but I’m also a very proud father today.

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Sky Sports News breaks the news that Sunny Singh Gill will preside over Northampton Town vs Hartlepool United and become the first British South Asian to referee an English Football League match since his dad Jarnail Singh more than a decade ago.

“Enjoy the game and take everything in [was my advice before the game to Sunny].

“But I’m a really proud father. Overall, I think he did well. He did what he had to do with the cautions and things like that. There were maybe a few technical issues, which we will be having a chat about on the way home – that’s if he wants to talk about it.”

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Sunny Singh Gill said he’d bring something different ahead of becoming the first South Asian to ref an EFL game since his dad Jarnail Singh in 2010. Dad Jarnail said he’d be refereeing the game with his son from the stands.

Jarnail added: “These days there is a lot of pressure [on referees in general]. There are cameras at every game, you’re observed at every game. It’s a multi-million-pound industry and the pressures are enormous.”

Sunny’s EFL debut fell during South Asian Heritage Month and comes a little over a week 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.

Jarnail said the timing of the occasion brought some added “positivity” and also demonstrated that British South Asians can compete at the higher levels of the Beautiful Game – and be successful.

Sunny had a lot of friends and family at the game to cheer him on at Sixfields stadium, with one notable omission – his younger brother Bhupinder, who is an assistant referee himself and was working on a match in the Sky Bet Championship.

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 Championship fixture.

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Bhups and Sunny Singh GIll made history during Bristol City vs Nottingham Forest as the first pair of South Asian match officials to officiate a Championship game.

Jarnail added: “I think the future is very bright, especially in terms of refereeing and the funding and development opportunities that are being made available now. It’s been a passion for the boys. They took up refereeing and 10,13, years down the line they are both now officiating at a fairly decent level.”

Webb: Bhups and Sunny have excelled

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World Cup final referee Howard Webb is predicting big things for Bhups and Sunny Singh Gill

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

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Sky Sports News presenter Tom White delivered the breaking news that Bhups and Sunny Singh Gill would become the first pair of British South Asians to officiate in the same Championship game.

“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.”

British South Asians in Football

For more stories, features and videos, visit our groundbreaking South Asians in Football page on skysports.com and South Asians in the Game blog and stay tuned to Sky Sports News and our Sky Sports digital platforms.



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