Irish FA can bank on new chairman Gerry Mallon
The Irish Football Association has elected a new chairman - Danske Bank UK chief executive Gerry Mallon.
The Cambridge University graduate from Belfast replaces Leslie Caul, who has served his maximum five years in the role and will stay on the IFA's Executive board for another 12 months as an independent director.
Mallon is a shrewd operator with an impressive track record in business. He promises to be a smart choice for the IFA as they approach one of the most important periods in the history of the association.
The new 18,000 Windsor Park should be completed next year and also in 2016 there is every chance Northern Ireland will be playing in the finals of a major tournament for the first time since 1986, with Michael O'Neill's side well placed to qualify for the European Championships.
While chief executive Patrick Nelson runs the organisation on a daily basis, it is up to the IFA executive board, which is made up of 11 people and meet on a bi-monthly basis, to make key decisions regarding football in Northern Ireland and come up with a strategic outlook for the future of the game in this country.
Mallon is relishing his role as chairman.
The Liverpool fan said: "As someone who is passionate about football I feel very privileged to be taking on this position at such an exciting time in the IFA's history, both on and off the pitch.
"I have great faith in the continued progress of the team and also hope that I can bring a high level of commercial and board experience to the set-up here and ultimately play a support role in helping to guide the organisation over the next couple of years.
"I have been very impressed with the management and plans that are now in place within the IFA and I look forward to working with chief executive Patrick Nelson as he seeks to secure exciting times ahead for the team and the fans."
Nelson said: "We are delighted that Gerry Mallon has become our chairman. Not only does he bring superb business acumen to the role, but he is also a passionate supporter of football.
"I have no doubt he will be a great asset to the Irish Football Association as we develop and nurture the game here, deliver a fantastic new national stadium and inspire every child in Northern Ireland to be part of our football family and to dream of wearing the green jersey."
Over the years some IFA officials have been accused of not caring about Irish League football and only thinking about the national team. That can't be thrown at Mallon, who was the man behind Danske Bank becoming sponsors of the Irish League Premiership in 2012 - a relationship which continues to this day.
Brought on to the IFA board when Trevor Annon became chairman of the Windsor Park Stadium Development Company, father-of-four Mallon will chair meetings with fellow independent board member Caul, IFA president Jim Shaw, David Martin, Jack Grundie, Maurice Johnston, Conor Kirkwood, Aidan Murphy, Robert Haworth, Alan Willis and Neil Jardine who make up the 11-man team.
Paying tribute to Caul, who is stepping down as chairman, Nelson said: "As chairman Les has been an essential part of the association's move towards being a well governed organisation over the last five years.
"Without his guidance we would not have made such good progress nor would we have built such good relations with many of our external stakeholders."