Tory takes over at the Football League

Last updated : 19 December 2002 By Tony Scholes

Mawhinney replaces Keith Harris who resigned after the ITV Digital court case collapsed but there is no doubt that today’s decision was not expected.

He was Chairman of the Conservative Party and probably his claim to fame was that he held that position when his party lost the 1997 General Election in a landslide. The Football League claim to have appointed him for his leadership skills, presumably the very reason the Tories finally got rid of him.

Mind you the league claim that he is a keen supporter of Peterborough United and has been for 25 years but Mawhinney himself admits only to being an occasional guest of the club in Parliamentary Register of Members Interests.

A member of Thatcher’s Government he has served as Secretary of State for Transport and was also the Sports Minister for Northern Ireland. He will start his new role in January and said after the announcement of his appointment,

"This is an important job, which needless to say, I will take seriously, but football is also fun and I intend to enjoy that aspect too.

"Everybody knows that this is a crucial time for football, with discussions about the financial pressures on clubs. I am coming in at a time when important issues, such as restructuring and transfer windows, are being addressed and need to be resolved.

"On the other hand I come to the role aware that The League is enjoying huge support with attendances on the up and up, and I want to play my part in building an even better future for the 72 clubs.

"I am delighted to be given this opportunity – football is not just the national game it is part of our culture. I look forward both to doing the job and getting to know the clubs, their chairmen and directors, representatives of supporters’ organisations and the media. as well as establishing a strong rapport with the FA and the Premier League".