Boss of Peterborough BGL Group is set to be first chairwoman of Football Association

The chairman of Peterborough insurance giant BGL Group is poised to become the first chairwoman of the Football Association.

By Paul Grinnell
Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 11:51 am
Debbie Hewitt. EMN-210806-104328005
Debbie Hewitt. EMN-210806-104328005

Debbie Hewitt has received a unanimous nomination from the FA Board to become the Football Association’s first chairwoman.

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.

Ms Hewitt was appointed as chairman of the BGL Group, which employs about 1,400 staff at its head ofice in Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, two years ago, after first joining the digital distributor of insurance and household financial services company in 2011 as a senior independent non-executive director.

In a statement, the FA said: “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.

Ms Hewitt, whose appointment as the first female chair in the governing body’s 157-year history is subject to ratification by the FA Council, will succeed the interim FA chair, Peter McCormick, from January 2022.

She is set to be a permanent successor to Greg Clarke, who resigned last November after making a series of offensive remarks during an appearance before MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee.

Ms Hewitt is currently the non-executive chair of Visa Europe, The Restaurant Group plc, BGL Group and White Stuff.

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 in January.

Ms Hewitt, who was awarded an MBE in 2011 for services to business and the public sector. said: “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 Council will be asked to formally ratify the appointment at its next meeting on July 22, with McCormick remaining in position as interim chair until Ms Hewitt officially starts next year.

Kate Tinlsey said: “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.”

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.