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Lawlor eager to get started after being appointed NIFL's first ever chief executive officer


Gerard Lawlor is the Northern Ireland Football League's first ever chief executive officer

Gerard Lawlor is the Northern Ireland Football League's first ever chief executive officer

Stephen Hamilton/Inpho

Gerard Lawlor is the Northern Ireland Football League's first ever chief executive officer

Gerard Lawlor says he is ready to face the challenges facing the Irish League head on after being appointed the Northern Ireland Football League's (NIFL) first chief executive officer.

Lawlor, who moves up from his role as NIFL chairman and will step down as chairman of Cliftonville to facilitate the new position, will start his job in the first week of September.

The position is a new one, created after the resignation of NIFL's managing director Andrew Johnston in December 2020 as part of a restructure to the organisation's senior management.

Lawlor certainly brings plenty of experience to the table having worked in local football for over 20 years, with his roles including chairman of both NIFL and Cliftonville and a member of the IFA board.

“It is with great pride and enthusiasm that I accept the role and very much look forward to getting started to working with the member clubs and staff," commented Lawlor.

"I am fully aware of the challenges ahead and we will face them head on. I have always been proud to be a part of NIFL and to now be given the trust of the board and opportunity to drive it forward is an honour.

"My focus is that together with all the NIFL member clubs, both male and female, we not only govern but also support and serve to create a more professional, sustainable organisation.”

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At club level, Lawlor has held multiple roles with Cliftonville, ranging from community relations officer to board member and then eventually to chairman, a role he has held since June 2008 and will step down from at the end of next month.

In that same period he has been part of the IFA board as well as on their remunerations committee, while he has been heavily involved with NIFL since its establishment in 2013.

Lawlor has held many roles with the organisation, including chairman of the NIFL Premiership Management Committee, vice-chairman of the NIFL Board and, most recently since October 2020, NIFL board chairman.

In that role he successfully steered the league through some of the biggest challenges ever faced by football as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, enabling them to play a full 2020-21 season behind closed doors.

Away from football, Lawlor is the head of operations at the Grand Opera House in Belfast and was part of their team that delivered a substantial £13m restoration project.

Cliftonville president Sean McClean added: “Everyone at the club wishes Gerard every success in his new role and thanks him for his many years of dedication as a supporter, director and chair.

"While disappointed to see him step down, we are grateful that his efforts have brought much reward and success to our club over his term."

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