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British South Asian referees Premier League game for first time

Sunny Singh Gill has become the first British South Asian to referee a Premier League match by taking charge of Crystal Palace’s home game with Luton at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

The official had a quiet match, as Palace took an early lead before Cauley Woodrow equalised for Luton six minutes into added time at the end of the game.

He issued his first Premier League booking to Issa Kabore for a reckless challenge on Jefferson Lerma in the 27th minute, and showed his second yellow to Eberechi Eze for a pull on Reece Burke’s shirt.

Referee Sunny Gill during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. Picture date: Saturday March 9, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Palace. Photo credit should read: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire...RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Image: Referee Sunny Singh Gill. Pic: PA

While there was little controversy on the pitch, he provoked a grumpy reaction from former Premier League referee turned Sky Sports pundit, Mike Dean, when he was seen signing autographs at half-time.

Dean complained on Soccer Saturday: “I did get autograph requests after 300 games! You should sign autographs before the game or after the game but not at half-time!”

Luton Town's Cauley Woodrow (second right) celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. Picture date: Saturday March 9, 2024.
Image: Luton Town’s Cauley Woodrow (second right) celebrates his late equaliser. Pic: PA

Football writer Vai Bhardwaj said he was “extremely proud, as a fellow British Asian, to see Sunny Singh Gill become the first British South Asian to referee in the Premier League. A huge moment!”

Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) said, simply, “congratulations, Sunny!”

More on Luton

Football runs in Gill’s blood, as he is the eldest son of league football’s first turbaned Sikh referee, the trailblazing Jarnail Singh, who refereed more than 150 English Football League (EFL) matches across the divisions between 2004 and 2010.

Gill’s brother, Bhupinder Singh Gill, became the first Sikh-Punjabi assistant referee to officiate in the Premier League when he ran the line in the match between Southampton and Nottingham Forest in January last year.

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Gill, a former prison officer, also made history in January by becoming the first British South Asian to referee a game between two Premier League teams when he was in charge of Brighton’s FA Cup fourth round win at Sheffield United.

Referee Sunny Gill ahead of the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. Picture date: Saturday March 9, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Palace. Photo credit should read: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire...RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Image: Sunny Singh Gill before kick-off. Pic: PA

Sunny is the highest-ranked referee from a South Asian background in English football, and Bhupinder is the most senior assistant referee hailing from the community.

Sky News Source