Debbie Hewitt to become the FA's first female chair in its 157-year history

The Football Association is set to appoint its first ever chairwoman.

Debbie Hewitt received a unanimous nomination from the FA Board to become the governing body's first female chair in its 157-year history.

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She will be the FA's permanent successor to Greg Clarke, who resigned in November 2020 after making a series of offensive remarks in front of MPs on the DCMS committee.

Peter McCormick has been in interim charge since then and will carry on in the role before Hewitt takes on the reins - here's all you need to know about the FA's first chairwoman…

Who is Debbie Hewitt?

Hewitt was described as the "outstanding candidate" by FA director Kate Tinsley, while an FA statement recognised her "governance expertise" across different businesses.

She was awarded an MBE for services to business and the public sector in 2011 and holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Bath University.

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Having previously spent time as CEO for the RAC, Hewitt currently holds non-executive chair positions for Visa Europe, The Restaurant Group plc, BGL Group and White Stuff.

After six years with The Restaurant Group, which includes chains such as Wagamama and Frankie and Benny’s, she will step down from her role when she joins the FA.

What has Debbie Hewitt said about joining the FA?

A lifelong football fan, Hewitt was delighted to be nominated to become the FA's first female chair.

She said: "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.

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"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."

Why has Debbie Hewitt been appointed by the FA?

Independent non-executive FA director, Tinsley, led a seven-member selection panel who unanimously picked Hewitt to become the organisation's new chairperson.

The FA Board considered her extensive non-executive career spanning over 15 years in listed, private equity-backed and privately owned companies, across many different sectors.

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An FA statement read: "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."

When will Debbie Hewitt start at the FA?

Hewitt is expected to start work as FA chair in January 2022.

Before that, though, the FA Board will need to seek formal ratification of the appointment from the governing body's Council at its next meeting on 22 July 2021.

McCormick will remain in position as interim chair until Hewitt officially starts work as the organisation's first female chair early next year.

What has been the reaction to Debbie Hewitt's appointment?

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Tinsley said the appointment of Hewitt was an "excellent" one for the FA and English football.

"Debbie was the outstanding candidate from a talented and experienced field," said Tinsley. "She immediately demonstrated her passion and ability to positively influence the direction of the FA on a domestic and global stage, providing strong and principled leadership along the way."

Women in Football, a network of professionals working in and around the game, expressed its support for Hewitt.

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

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