MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Football Federation Australia have appointed former City Football Group executive James Johnson to replace long-serving CEO David Gallop.
Johnson, who represented Australia at youth level and has held administration roles across the globe, will start in the role in January.
“Having run a domestic and international executive search, and in a strong field of candidates, we have no doubt James is the right person for the role,” FFA chairman Chris Nikou said in a media release on Friday.
“We are thrilled that he is coming back to Australia at this important time for the game.
“Football is in James’ soul. He has demonstrated that he is a collaborative leader and team player and brings global and local experience and networks to the FFA.”
Johnson will inherit an organisation that has been plagued by infighting and was rocked by a constitutional crisis last year that ended the 15-year reign of the influential Lowy family.
One of his first tasks will be to maintain good relations with the newly independent A-League, which was under FFA control until the governing body struck a deal to divest the league in July.
The FFA and the league have continued to cooperate on some operational tasks during the A-League’s 2018/19 season while finalising the legal work of the separation.
Johnson will also need to usher in a national second division, slated for 2021-22, which may ultimately lead to a promotion-relegation system incorporating the A-League for the first time.
A lawyer by training, Johnson most recently served as a senior vice president of external affairs at Manchester City owners City Football Group.
He has held roles in Australia’s professional players’ union, at the Asian Football Confederation and at world governing body FIFA.
“Australian football is my first football community – I grew up here, I first watched football here, I’ve played here, and I built the basis of my football administration career here,” he said.
“I see my appointment as a responsibility to the game.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Michael Perry)