By Duncan Mackay

Maurice WatkinsDecember 13 - Former Manchester United director Maurice Watkins has been appointed as the new chairman of British Swimming and will lead the sport in the build-up to Rio 2016, it has been announced. 

Watkins, who is also a director of Lancashire County Cricket Club, replaces Alistair Gray who is stepping down after four years in the position.

Watkins, the joint senior partner of Brabners Chaffe Street LLP Solicitors in Manchester where he works as head of sport, will not be involved in the process by British Swimming to find a new national performance director and head coach.

But he will be expected to drive forward the recommendations proposed in the recent Debrief following the poor performance at London 2012, where Britain failed to reach their target of winning five Olympic medals.  

"I am delighted Maurice has agreed to accept the role of chairman of British Swimming," said David Sparkes, the chief executive of British Swimming.

"He brings a wealth of experience in sport to the Board and his leadership will, I am sure, enable the Board to be more focused as we take on the lessons from London and prepare for Rio to achieve medal success across the sport.

"We face some challenges and I am sure Maurice will drive forward our plans and I look forward to working with him over the next four years."

Watkins, who stood down as a director of Manchester United after 28 years on the Board, holds a number of other positions in sport, including interim chairman of the Rugby Football League having recently carried out a Governance Review. 

He is also chairman of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain.

"I am delighted to have been asked to become chairman of British Swimming," he said.

"It is an honour and a privilege.

"I look forward to working alongside people who are an inspiration in such an outstanding sport."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

elated stories
December 2012: British Swimming announce dates for two key 2013 domestic competitions following Debrief
December 2012: British Swimming chief has "healthy debate" with Adlington
December 2012: Embattled British Swimming announce interim leadership appointments
December 2012: British Swimming does not need "radical" overhaul review into London 2012 concludes
November 2012: British Swimming performance director quits after he refuses to live in Britain