The Football League’s Chief Operating Officer, Andy Williamson has been awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list.
The award recognises his 40 years of continuous service to the Football League after joining the organisation as a 17 year-old in 1971.
In a career spanning five decades Williamson now 58, progressed from junior clerk in The League’s registration department to his current role where he is responsible for overseeing all aspects of The League’s competitions and leads its strategic direction, in conjunction with its Chairman and Board of Directors.
A passionate football man, Williamson is highly regarded for his firm but even-handed management of club issues and his commitment to fair competition.
On receipt of the award Andy said:
“It has been an incredible honour to serve The Football League for virtually the whole of my working life and I am extremely proud to have been awarded an OBE for services to the game I love.”
“As ever, I am enormously grateful for the support and friendship I have received from all my current and former colleagues at The Football League, as well as all those at League clubs and from across the football world.”
Football League Chairman, Greg Clarke added:
“I am absolutely delighted that Andy’s career has been acknowledged in this way. His hard work ensures that the league matches watched by hundreds of thousands of people every week are fair, competitive and meaningful.”
“I am even more delighted that he tells me he has no plans to retire just yet.”
Born in Keighley, West Yorkshire in November 1953, Williamson has been personally involved in many of the game’s defining moments including the introduction of three points for a win (1981), The League’s first title sponsorship (1983) and the introduction of the Play-Offs (1986) – the finals of which moved to Wembley in 1990 at Williamson’s personal instigation.
He has also provided leadership to The League and its member clubs in difficult circumstances, such as the Bradford fire (1985), the Hillsborough disaster (1989), the formation of the Premier League (1992) and the collapse of ITV Digital (2002). Following which Williamson, alongside then Chairman Lord Mawhinney, was the architect of the most comprehensive financial governance programme that domestic football had ever seen.
It included the introduction of Sporting Sanctions (points deductions for clubs going into administration), the publication of club spending on agents fees, football’s first Fit and Proper Persons Test, limits on club expenditure on players’ wages and sanctions for clubs that fail to meet their tax liabilities.
Williamson is also on the Board of the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, which oversees refereeing in the domestic game. He also sits on the Professional Football Negotiation and Consultative Committee, the forum that agrees football’s employment arrangements for players and is a Trustee of League Football Education, the organisation that oversees academic arrangements for apprentice footballers.
Last summer, he was part of The Football League team that climbed Mount Kilimanjaro on behalf of Marie Curie Cancer Care, The League’s Official Charity Partner for 2010/11. The week-long trek up the highest mountain in Africa alongside Football League fans and journalists helped to raise awareness of the charity and contribute to The League’s £500,000 fundraising target.