Shaun Harvey will leave his role as chief executive of the English Football League at the end of the season.
The EFL announced the news in a statement on their website this morning.
Harvey took over as CEO in 2013 and has been involved in football for twenty-five consecutive years including ten years as managing director of Bradford City, helping them rise to the Premier League for the first time in their history before financial troubles beset their journey back down the Leagues. He left Bradford in 2004 to join Leeds United as a chief operating officer, a position he held until joining the EFL.
His tenure at the EFL has been controversial, ranging from demanding Accrington owner Andy Holt explain his post-match policy of buying his players an out of contract Macdonald’s after a victory to overseeing some controversial ownership issues at EFL clubs. Harvey’s handling of situations such as those at Blackpool and Bolton have provoked criticism from supporters and called the robustness of the EFL’s fit and proper person test for club ownership into question.
He was also responsible for the hugely contentious decision with some lower league supporters to invite 16 Premier League Acadamy teams into the Football League Trophy in the 2016/2017 season.
However, it was Harvey’s handling of the renewal of the EFL television deal with Sky in 2018 that brought him under severe pressure from his member clubs, particularly those in the Championship who felt the deal undervalued the rights, despite Harvey securing a thirty-five per cent increase on the previous contract. Many Championship clubs criticised a lack of consultation in the process which also controversially gave away the streaming rights for championship matches outside the traditional Saturday 3 00 pm kick off.
Harvey, who was a supporter of safe standing and sought to address the under-representation of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority( BAME) coaches at EFL clubs, said in the statement; “Having joined the EFL as CEO in October 2013, I am proud of what we have achieved since then, in what have not always been easy circumstances.”
“After discussions with the Board, we decided that the time is right for the EFL to now move in a different direction having concluded a number of commercial contracts that leave the League in a stable position.”
Debbie Jevans, Interim Chair of the EFL said: “The EFL would like to thank Shaun for all he has delivered since joining as CEO in 2013. The EFL is in a strong position with a growing fan base throughout the world, and Shaun deserves a lot of credit for this. Shaun and the Board have agreed that the time is now right for a change of leadership and a new direction. We are pleased that Shaun has agreed to stay on until the end of the season.”
Harvey was never popular with supporters, so it is perhaps a sad indictment of the modern game that however much he upset the fans, his position only became weakened when he fell out over television money with the big Championship clubs.
It can only be hoped the new direction the EFL mention in their statement, will be a more friendly one to the match going supporter, especially those in the League’s One and Two.