Debbie Hewitt is set to become the FA’s first female chair, with the Restaurant Group confirming she will be leaving the same position at the hospitality firm this morning.
Hewitt will leave the Restaurant Group – which owns Wagamama and Frankie and Benny’s – at the end of December 2021.
She will take one of the most important roles in English football from January 22, subject to a rubber-stamping from the FA Council.
Hewitt said TRG had “undergone a substantial transformation since (she) joined in 2015, and it now has a stronger customer ethos, a stronger group of brands and a first-class team.”
Her time at TRG has not been without controversy.
She and CEO Andy Hornby were on the end of a substantial shareholder revolt in 2020 over the latter’s pay packet.
Hewitt, who was awarded an MBE in 2011, had previously served as CEO for the RAC and sits on a number of high-profile City boards.
She will step into the FA role as football suffers a crisis of confidence after top clubs attempted to break away into new European competition.
The FA said Hewitt had been the unanimous choice to succeed interim chair Peter McCormick.
“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,” it added.
The FA’s previous chair, Greg Clarke, was forced to resign after making a series of offensive remarks during a select committee hearing in November.
A number of high-profile football figures have called for the government to appoint a football regulator in the wake of the failed European Super League breakaway.