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Football Association nominates Debbie Hewitt as first female chairperson from January 2022

Debbie Hewitt nominated by FA to become governing body's new chairperson from January 2022; Sky Sports News reported in April she had agreed to take the role in principle; Hewitt would become first woman appointed to lead the FA

Debbie Hewitt (pic from FA)
Image: Debbie Hewitt is set to join the FA from January

Debbie Hewitt has been nominated as the new chair of the FA, with effect from January 2022, the governing body has announced.

Hewitt, who Sky Sports News reported in April had agreed to take the role in principle, is set to become the first woman to lead the organisation in its 157-year history after receiving a unanimous nomination from the FA board.

A seven-member selection panel, led by independent non-executive FA director Kate Tinsley, picked Hewitt after considering her extensive non-executive career spanning over 15 years in Listed, private equity-backed and privately-owned companies, across many different sectors.

"The panel were in full agreement that she has the outstanding chair and governance expertise, across an extensive range of business sectors, as well as the proven leadership qualities and character required for the role," said an FA statement.

Hewitt, whose appointment is subject to ratification by the FA council at their next meeting on July 22, will succeed the interim FA chair Peter McCormick from the beginning of next year.

The FA are looking for a replacement for former Chairman Greg Clarke
Image: Hewitt is set to replace Greg Clarke as FA chair after he stood down in November

She is currently the non-executive chair of Visa Europe, The Restaurant Group plc, BGL Group and White Stuff, and was awarded an MBE in the 2011 New Year's Honours List for services to business and the public sector.

She will step down from The Restaurant Group, which includes chains such as Wagamama and Frankie and Benny's, after six years in the role when she joins the FA.

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Hewitt told the FA's website: "I'm delighted to be nominated for the role of non-executive chair of the Football Association.

"As the events in recent months have shown, this is a significant moment in time for English football, with a clear purpose for all stakeholders to secure the long-term health of the game at all levels.

"I've been passionate about football from a very young age and I'm excited by the opportunity to play my part in shaping the future of something that means so much to so many.

"I'm looking forward to working alongside our CEO Mark Bullingham and the team across Wembley Stadium and St. George's Park, and relish the opportunity to chair an organisation that has the potential to be a very positive force for good throughout the game and across society."

The FA had been searching for a new chair since Greg Clarke resigned in November 2020 after making offensive comments when appearing in front of MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.

Clarke referred to black footballers as "coloured", and suggested South Asians want to work in IT as they have "different career interests".

Neville: Hewitt an outstanding appointment

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville has described Hewitt as an "outstanding appointment", joining a chorus of praise from across sport.

Former England and Manchester United defender Neville wrote on Twitter: "This is an outstanding appointment. The FA have a chance to modernise here if they allow Debbie to do her work!"

Women in Football congratulated Hewitt, saying in a statement on Twitter: "Congratulations to new @FA Chair Debbie Hewitt MBE. We wish you every success in your new role."

Meanwhile, sports minister Nigel Huddleston tweeted: "Congratulations on the new role as @FA Chair Debbie Hewitt. I'm looking forward to working with you."

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