Football CEO of the Year Award 2021 Finalists Announced

The finalists for the fcbusiness CEO of the Year Award sponsored by General Sports Worldwide have been announced. 



The finalists for this year’s awards are: Susan Whelan (Leicester FC), Jon Varney (Brentford FC), Ben Mansford (Blackpool FC), Henry Staelens (Forest Green Rovers FC) and Stewart Robertson (Rangers FC).


The CEO from each league has been nominated by a panel at fcbusiness for their leadership throughout the 2020/21 season and is now shortlisted for the overall CEO of the Year prize. Each winner will receive their award at a glitzy ceremony on 23rd September at the Brewery in London before the overall winner is announced at the ceremony.


Recognising the valuable contribution of the game’s executives in the UK has seen fcbusiness present the CEO of the Year Award each year since 2012, with winners including the likes of Peter Moore (Liverpool FC), Mark Ashton (Bristol City), Alan Burrows (Motherwell), Karren Brady (West Ham United), Mark Catlin, (Portsmouth) and Alistair Mackintosh (Fulham FC) to name a few.


CEO of the Year winners from Football Business Awards 2019. (L to R) Mark Chapman (Compeer), Peter Moore (Liverpool FC), Mark Ashton (Bristol City), Gary Sweet (Luton Town) Carolyn Radford (Mansfield Town), Alan Burrows (Motherwell) and Aaron Gourley (fcbusiness).


fcbusiness Editor and Football Business Awards judge, Aaron Gourley, said: “This year has been incredibly tough for football and the virtues of leadership have never been more in demand. This has meant clubs have had to make incredibly tough decisions as normal business has been turned upside down as a result of the prolonged restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic.


“However, football has been a lifeline of entertainment during this time and in the face of numerous challenging moments our nominees have shown great skill in responding to the situation to ensure their clubs not only continue to operate but also thrive on the pitch.    


“There may well have been unpopular decisions made but leadership is about doing what is best under the circumstances and bringing out the best in people. Our nominees have shown these qualities and that is why we are proud to announce them as finalists at the Football Business Awards. 


“The Football Business Awards are a fantastic way of recognising the efforts of everyone involved in the business side of the beautiful game and I’m sure, as each of our CEO’s would testify, they would not be in line for an award without them.”


Football Business Awards co-founder, Simon Burton, added: “The role of a CEO as leader of a football club has never been more important. The nominees stand as exemplars of the unique blend of talents required to deliver success for the club as a sporting enterprise, sustainable business and cornerstone of the community.”


Over 500 senior managers and decision makers from the football industry will attend the glitzy event in the heart of London, making the awards the perfect networking opportunity in the football calendar. 


Table sales are open for those interested in attending the event. For more information on individual places or group bookings, please contact us direct: 0191 442 4004


fcbusiness CEO of the Year sponsored by General Sports Worldwide Finalists:

Premier League: Susan Whelan – Leicester City FC 

EFL Championship: Jon Varney – Brentford FC

EFL League One: Ben Mansford – Blackpool FC

EFL League Two: Henry Staelens – Forest Green Rovers FC 

SPFL: Stewart Robertson – Rangers FC


fcbusiness CEO of the Year Award (Overall) – To be announced at the awards ceremony


To see the full awards shortlist, please visit:  



About the CEO of the Year Award

The nominees for CEO of the Year are chosen on the following basis:

– Nominees have been in the role for the full season and are still at the club this season.

– If there is no official CEO role then the person who fulfils those duties will be accepted (Managing Director or Chairman for example)

– Business success – has the club ran a successful business operation (increased turnover, managed budgets, made a profit, ran within FFP controls, etc)

– On-pitch success – has the team been successful on the field (this can be defied expectations, won promotion etc)

– Leadership – has this person show outstanding leadership across the club?

– Club stability – the club has had no major issues throughout the year or anything has been dealt with in a reasonable and highly efficient manner.