The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Tom Black­ett

THE Football League are set to bid farewell to ‘wise sage’ Andy Wil­liamson at the end of the sea­son – af­ter 45 years’ ster­ling ser­vice!

The League’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, 61, con­firmed his im­pend­ing re­tire­ment at a meet­ing of all League clubs at Hills­bor­ough.

He said: “It has been a real priv­i­lege to spend vir­tu­ally the whole of my work­ing life in pro­fes­sional football and serve the game that is held dear by so many of us.

“My com­mit­ment to the Football League and its mem­ber clubs will con­tinue long af­ter I step down.”

Football League chair­man Greg Clarke was one of the first to pay trib­ute to the Football League stal­wart.

He said: “Andy has been the wise sage of English pro­fes­sional football for many sea­sons and is rightly re­garded as one of the finest ad­min­is­tra­tors the sport has ever pro­duced.

“The dili­gence Andy has shown week-in, week-out over the years has en­sured that mil­lions of sup­port­ers have been able to watch matches that have been fair, com­pet­i­tive and mean­ing­ful.

“His con­tri­bu­tion to our clubs and their com­mu­ni­ties, es­pe­cially in the de­vel­op­ment of young foot­ballers, both on and off the pitch, will serve as a last­ing legacy to an out­stand­ing ca­reer.”

Wil­liamson has been per­son­ally in­volved in many of league football’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 play­offs (1986) – the fi­nals of which moved to Wem­b­ley in 1990 at his per­sonal in­sti­ga­tion.

He has also pro­vided lead­er­ship to the League and its clubs in chal­leng­ing 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).

In 2012, he was awarded the OBE in recog­ni­tion of his out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to football.

STAL­WART: Andy Wil­liamson

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