Gerard Lawlor appointed new Chief Executive Officer of NI Football League

The NI Football League Board has confirmed the appointment of the league’s first ever Chief Executive Officer as Gerard Lawlor.

Following the resignation of then NIFL Managing Director Andrew Johnston in December 2020, the NIFL Board sought to restructure the senior management to lead the business into a new and exciting period of opportunity in football.

After a careful and considered recruitment process conducted by leading Belfast based recruitment professionals, Narratology, a number of high quality professional candidates were interviewed and considered for the role.

The position was offered and accepted by Mr. Lawlor earlier this week.

New NIFL Chief Executive Officer, Gerard Lawlor

Speaking of his appointment, Lawlor said: “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.

"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.”

Gerard comes into the business operations of NIFL with a wealth of experience in both the football industry and the business community within Northern Ireland, spanning over 20 years.

Currently the Head of Operations at the Grand Opera House since January 2017, he recently played a key role in delivering a substantial £13m restoration project to upgrade their historic city centre premises.

Gerard has played a vital role in the revitalisation of his boyhood club Cliftonville and has served the North Belfast club with distinction across various roles including Community Relations Officer, Board Member and latterly as Chairman since June 2008.

His stewardship of Cliftonville transformed the club into a competitive and progressive organisation, the highlight being back-to-back Danske Bank Premiership titles in 2013 & 2014, coupled with regular qualification to UEFA competitions during this time.

The Belfast native has been heavily active within the administration of both the association and the league during his career to date. With the Irish Football Association, he currently holds office as an elected Board member and member of the remunerations committee; having also served on various Irish FA committees during a 15 year period.

Lawlor has been a key driver in the success of the NI Football League since its establishment in 2013. Representing Cliftonville, he has previously been Chairman of the NIFL Premiership Management Committee, Vice-Chairman of the NIFL Board and most recently since October 2020, Lawlor has been NIFL Board Chairman; successfully steering the league through some of the biggest challenges ever faced by football as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition, Gerard was appointed as a UEFA Match Observer in April this year and holds a UEFA B Licence coaching qualification.

On Friday morning (9 July), Gerard wrote to members of Cliftonville Football Club to advise of his decision to step down as club Chairman next month.

He will also step down from his current role as Chairman of the NI Football League ahead of the league’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday 29 July.