Neil Doncaster

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Neil Doncaster
CEO of the Scottish Professional Football League
Assumed office
3 July 2013
CEO of the Scottish Premier League
In office
Personal details
Born Devon, England

Neil Doncaster (born 1970) is an association football executive. He was appointed as chief executive of the Scottish Professional Football League in July 2013, having previously held the same position at the Scottish Premier League from 2009 to 2013 and at Norwich City F.C. from 2001 to 2009.[1]


Born in Devon, Doncaster graduated from Bristol University in 1992,[2] qualified as a solicitor and worked for four years for Burges Salmon, solicitors. In 2008, he obtained an MBA from the University of East Anglia.[3]

While at Norwich City, he was a director of FL Interactive Limited, the subsidiary of The Football League responsible for official club websites, and EventGuard Limited, a security company.

Career in Football[edit]

Doncaster joined Norwich City in November 1997 as company secretary and solicitor, and two years later he was promoted to Head of Operations before taking up the role of Chief executive in 2001. During his time at Norwich, he took an active role in English football. From 2006, he was a director of The Football League. In July 2008, he was elected to The Football Association board as one of two representatives of The Football League.[4]

As Chief executive of Norwich City, Doncaster oversaw their promotion to the Premier League for the 2004/05 season. However, after the team's relegation from The Championship to League One in May 2009, he stepped down from his position, along with chairman Roger Munby.[5] In the following months, he also left his positions on the boards of The Football Association and The Football League.

On 7 July 2009, Doncaster was appointed Chief executive of the Scottish Premier League.[6] During his time at the SPL, Doncaster has presided over the crisis that saw Rangers go into administration as well as ongoing efforts to restructure the league.[7] Those efforts were concluded in 2013, as the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League were merged into a single league for all 42 professional clubs.[8] The Scottish Professional Football League was created on a one club, one vote basis, with a pyramid structure, allowing non-league clubs to compete for entry to the professional leagues, and a redistribution of wealth in favour of the second tier. It also saw the return of play-offs between teams in the top two divisions, the Scottish Premiership and the Scottish Championship.[9]

On 3 July 2013, it was confirmed that Doncaster had beaten David Longmuir to the position of Chief executive of the newly formed Scottish Professional Football League.[10] In the same year, Doncaster was elected to the board of the European Professional Football Leagues.[11]

In the summer of 2015, Doncaster confirmed that the British bookmaker Ladbrokes would be the new sponsor of all Scottish Professional Football League competitions,[12] the first sponsor of the top tier of Scottish football since Clydesdale Bank's deal ran out in 2013.[13] Ladbrokes' deal, believed to be worth £2m per year over two years,[14] is said to be "the biggest ever of its kind in Scottish football".[15]

Doncaster is deeply unpopular with most Scottish football fans, mainly due to his part, alongside ex-SFA CEO Stewart Regan, in 'Ratnering' Scottish football with his comments following the death of Rangers in 2012; his part in presenting the charade that they are still the same club; his determination to have the new club placed as high as possible in the league system and his continued promotion of the Old Firm in general while, like most Scottish authorities, ignoring their blatant Sectarianism. Rather than addressing the issue he is leading a movement to introduce their so-called Colts teams into the league system. Given the Old Firm's power this will undoubtedly happen therefore doubling the outlets of their sectarianism.

His continued copying of elements of the English game to Scotland's detriment is another reason for his unpopularity, especially his rebranding of the SPFL leagues to mirror England's. This has been a total failure as years later the top league in Scotland is frequently still called the SPL, the name of it's predecessor.

His latest move in further devaluing Scottish football is to introduce English non-league clubs into a Scottish cup competition, which is already diluted by Irish and Welsh teams. That he sees clubs sitting in almost 100th place in England as fitting competition for those as high as the 'Scottish Championship' shows exactly what he thinks of the non-Old Firm clubs. Fans are seriously worried about the games future with Doncaster in post.


  1. ^ "UCFB Guest Lecturer Profile: Neil Doncaster, Chief Executive of the SPFL". UCFB. Retrieved 3 May 2017. 
  2. ^ Featured alumni: Neil Doncaster (LLB 1992) University of Bristol
  3. ^ New signing for UEA University of East Anglia, 19 September 2005
  4. ^ Cuffley, David (9 July 2008). "Doncaster takes on enforcer's role". The Pink 'Un. Archant Community Media. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "Pair step down from Norwich board". BBC Sport. 12 May 2009. 
  6. ^ "Doncaster appointed new SPL chief". BBC Sport. 7 July 2009. 
  7. ^ "SPL chief Neil Doncaster refuses to be blamed for vote failure". BBC Sport. 16 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "SPFL created after all-night talks". The Scotsman. Johnston Publishing. 28 June 2013. 
  9. ^ Sky, BT Sport Expected To Bid As Much As $11M For New SPFL Playoff Games Sports Business Global, 17 June 2013
  10. ^ Press Release – SPFL CEO Scottish Premier League, 3 July 2013
  11. ^ EPFL Annual Report of Activities 2013–2014 European Professional Football Leagues, Nyon, Switzerland, 2014
  12. ^ Ladbrokes announced as title sponsor Scottish Professional Football League, 13 May 2015
  13. ^ Ladbrokes named first SPFL sponsor since 2013 Daily Mail, 13 May 2015
  14. ^ SPFL names Ladbrokes as sponsor in £4m deal BBC News, Scotland, 13 May 2015
  15. ^ Doncaster welcomes Ladbrokes as new SPFL sponsors The Herald (Glasgow), 13 May 2015

External links[edit]