The Football League's Chief Operating Officer, Andy Williamson, was recognised for his services to sport off the field of play after collecting the prestigious JL Manning Award at the SJA British Sports Awards yesterday.
Williamson, 61, is widely acclaimed across the football world for his firm but even-handed management of club issues and his commitment to fair competition between clubs, and it was announced in September that he is to retire at the end of the current season.
Read more: Andy Williamson announces retirement
During his career he 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 Play-Offs (1986) – the finals of which moved to Wembley in 1990 at his personal instigation. In 2012, he was awarded the OBE in recognition of his outstanding contribution to football.
Williamson was presented with the award at the SJA ceremony in London, attended by nearly 400 guests from sport, politics and the media, and joins a list of recipients that includes Sir Ian McGeechan (1997), Sir Bobby Charlton (1998), Sir Clive Woodward (2003) and Lord Coe (2012).
Read more: Click here for a list of previous winners of the JL Manning Award
"It's a great honour to receive recognition with this award, particularly when you look at the previous recipients," Williamson reflected.
"It was an excellent ceremony; a very prestigious occasion with numerous awards for many sporting icons.
"I've had a lot of positivity since I announced my retirement – from people from the past and from the present – and it's a great privilege to be recognised by the Sports Journalists' Association."
Other winners at the SJA British Sports Awards, sponsored by The National Lottery, included athletes Greg Rutherford – the holder of every elite long jump title – and Jessica Ennis-Hill – the world and Olympic heptathlon champion.
The victorious Davis Cup tennis team, led by Andy Murray, was voted the SJA’s Team of the Year after becoming the first Great Britain side to take the title in more than 70 years and outgoing SJA president Sir Michael Parkinson was on hand to present the SJA Peter Wilson Trophy for international newcomer to England fast bowler Mark Wood.
Sir Michael then had the tables turned on him when he received the Association’s Doug Gardner Award for services to sports journalism and the SJA.