Media man Murdoch MacLennan is appointed new SPFL chairman

Murdoch MacLennan will replace Ralph Topping as the new independent non-executive chairman of the Scottish Professional Football League.
 Picture: Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph
Murdoch MacLennan will replace Ralph Topping as the new independent non-executive chairman of the Scottish Professional Football League. Picture: Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph
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Murdoch MacLennan has been appointed as the new chairman of the Scottish Professional Football League.

The 68-year-old Glaswegian, one of the most experienced media production and management executives in the UK, will formally replace the retiring Ralph Topping in the role on 1 August.

MacLennan, who began his long career in the media business as a graduate trainee with The Scotsman, last month stepped down as chief executive of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph after 13 years

Previously, MacLennan held a variety of roles at the Daily Record and Sunday Mail, Mirror Group Newspapers, Express Newspapers and Associated Newspapers. He is also currently the chairman of the Press Association Group.

“I am thrilled to have been selected to be the next chairman of the Scottish Professional Football League, and to build on the achievements of Ralph Topping,” said MacLennan. “I am so proud to be a part of its future. I greatly look forward to working with [chief executive] Neil Doncaster and to the opportunities and challenges that are ahead for the whole of Scottish football.”

The SPFL say MacLennan was the unanimous choice of their board members following what they describe as an “exhaustive search” by sports executive recruitment agency Nolan Partners.

“Murdoch brings with him a wealth of top-level business and media experience and has been at the cutting edge of the digital revolution as CEO and now deputy chairman of the Telegraph Media Group,” said Doncaster. “He demonstrated a real passion for the role and a clear insight into the opportunities and challenges we will face in the years ahead.

“There was very strong interest in the role from a host of highly-qualified candidates, but Murdoch was the board’s unanimous choice and we look forward to working with him as we continue to drive the game to even greater success in Scotland.”

Topping, who replaced Lex Gold as chairman of the then Scottish Premier League in 2009, announced his decision to stand down in January this year. The former William Hill chief executive helped oversee the often contentious merger of the SPL with the Scottish Football League in the summer of 2013 to form the SPFL.

“I have very much enjoyed working with Ralph, who has played a key role in steering the SPL and SPFL through some turbulent times,” added Doncaster. “He has been a huge and positive influence behind the scenes, particularly in the successful 2013 merger of the SPL and SFL. I doubt very much whether that merger would have happened without his expertise, vision and diplomacy.”

MacLennan is also likely to take up the SPFL’s seat on the main Scottish FA board of directors which is currently occupied by Topping.

Outgoing chairman Topping said: “I’ve greatly enjoyed my time in Scottish football and it was an honour to be chairman of the SPL and SPFL, especially during a period of substantial change and challenge.

“After advising the SPFL board in January that developing business commitments meant that I had decided to leave, I am delighted that my final act as chairman is to have secured the appointment of Murdoch as the new 
chairman.”