LONDON: England will become the first major football power to be led by a woman when Debbie Hewitt formally takes over as chairman of the Football Association next January.

She will take over from interim chair Peter McCormick after a unanimous nomination by the FA board.

Hewitt, who received an MBE in 2011 for services to business and the public sector, is currently non-executive chair of Visa Europe, The Restaurant Group plc, BGL Group and White Stuff.

She will step down from The Restaurant Group, which owns chains such as Wagamama and Frankie and Benny’s, when she takes on her FA role.

Hewitt said: “I’m delighted to be nominated for the role of non-executive chair. As 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.”
Ms Hewitt will succeed Greg Clarke, who stood down in November over inappropriate comments he made about black and gay people before a government committee.

Kate Tinsley, independent non-executive FA Director and chair of the selection panel, added: “This is an excellent appointment for the FA and English football in general.

“Debbie was the outstanding candidate from a talented and experienced field.

“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.”