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Julie Harrington

Julie Harrington is the Chief Executive of British Cycling and former Group Operations Director at the Football Association.

Julie has led the national governing body for cycling in Great Britain since 2017, steering the organisation through a series of changes prompted by the Cycling Independent Review. British Cycling is now gearing up for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, as well as continuing to support and organise numerous events and initiatives across the country, to encourage people of all ages to get into cycling.

Prior to British Cycling, Julie joined the Football Association (FA) in 2011, shortly before the official opening of St George's Park National Football Centre, in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire. Julie was the Managing Director of the £100m elite training centre, tasked with the final stage of construction and grand opening by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2012. Home to 24 England teams, Julie was also responsible for developing the centre’s strategy and its commercial performance.  

After two years, she was promoted to second in command at the FA, as Group Operations Director. She was tasked with looking after Wembley Stadium, in London, alongside her responsibilities at St George’s Park. She also had the additional focus of women’s and development team games away from Wembley, providing players from grassroots up with the opportunity to develop their skills and techniques.

Julie’s first job in sports came after a career in advertising and marketing within the brewing industry. She decided against becoming a teacher after achieving a Bachelor of Education, instead joining an advertising agency. Here she managed an account for Bass Brewery, before being offered a job at Carlsberg-Tetley, out of Burton-on-Trent. Sponsoring sporting events was a part of the company’s marketing strategy that sparked a particular interest. Just some of those she worked on included the UEFA Euro 1996 tournament as well as horse racing events and courses.

Julie then joined the sports industry directly, accepting a position managing Uttoxeter Racecourse, in Staffordshire. The course was one of ten owned by Northern Racing, formed in 1998 by the late Sir Stanley Clarke CBE, who was awarded an Honorary Degree from Staffordshire University in the same year. Julie was eventually charged with running the company’s entire portfolio of race courses, when she heard the FA was looking at Staffordshire for the National Football Centre. Meetings with the FA to see how they could work together eventually led to an invitation to become the first Managing Director of St George’s Park.

The Award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Julie in recognition of her contribution and expert knowledge in the field of sports development, as well as raising the profile of women in sport and for inspiring young people at grassroots level to participate and excel.

Photo of Julie Harrington

Julie Harrington was bestowed the award in 2019

I was absolutely thrilled and surprised to be offered this award. Most of my career has been in Staffordshire, so I was delighted to be recognised by the University, and we’ve already been in conversation about how we can work together in future.

Julie Harrington