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Graham Kelly

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Former FA Chief Executive, now football journalist.
After 25 years at the top of Britain's national sport, Graham Kelly, 53, controversially resigned as Chief Executive of The Football Association in December 1998.


Graham was educated at Baines Grammar School, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire and on leaving joined Barclays Bank. Drawn by the irresistible love of the game he loves, he entered football with a junior position in the Football League in 1968.

He was promoted to assistant secretary in 1973 and secretary (CEO) in 1979. His time at the League saw many controversial developments, including the infamous "Snatch of the Day" in 1978 when LWT (London Weekend Television) stole the television rights from the traditional holders the BBC, the introduction of live transmissions in 1983, and the advent of title sponsorship for competitions.

In 1989, Kelly became chief executive of the Football Association, but the path of his career was no less turbulent. Six weeks after his move to the FA he was present at Hillsborough when tragedy took the lives of 96 fans killed in a fatal crush. In the wake of this disaster soccer clubs spent £300 million to make their stadia all seated and Graham piloted the introduction of the new Premier League in 1992. Television rights fees then soared and English soccer is now one of the top five federations in a world game with more participant countries than the United Nations.

Following the success of the European Football Championship held in England in 1996. Graham Kelly has attended four World Cups including Mexico 1986, Italy 1990, USA 1994 and France 1998.

Although he carried the burden of high office for many years Graham never lost his appreciation of the absurd in a high-pressure sport which has become ever more competitive. This sense of the ridiculous Graham brought to bear throughout a long, though undistinguished, playing career, which included the following appearances: Accrington Stanley (just before their bankruptcy), FA staff team at the world famous Wembley Stadium before a record low attendance of 27 and Dinosaur Thursday (from the British Natural History Museum).

When Graham left the Football Association after a row over the methods he adopted too secure support for England's World Cup campaign, Glenn Hoddle the then team coach said, “I'm very sad Graham Kelly has gone, he is a football man who did a lot of good work.”

Graham can speak to a wide range of organisations on the high profile job of fronting the national game that he held for ten years. He often astounds those people who saw him as a non-smiling, miserable buffer with his deadpan humour and interesting subject matter.

He wrote weekly for the Independent as well providing a consultancy role to various different companies.

Graham received publicity with the launch of his book “Sweet FA”, his involvement with the P1 motor sport and his appointment as a director of Luton Town FC . Graham is available for golf days or after dinner/motivational speaking.

For further information and appearance fees for this sporting personality please contact the office on 01702 202036 or Click Here for our email enquiry form.