Tributes paid after death of Sussex FA chairman

Matt Major, the chairman of the Sussex FA, has died at the age of 65.
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The county FA announced the sad news ‘with great sadness’, saying he had battled courageously against oesophageal cancer over the past year and had passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family.

The Sussex FA said: “Born in St Albans, Hertfordshire, Matt first became involved in football during his time working in Oxford, where he became a sponsor of Oxford United in the late 1980s, who were then in the old First Division.

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“Matt’s involvement with Oxford United provided him with vital experience into the ways in which football and business work together. Yet it was Sussex that would soon become his home, moving to Brighton over 30 years ago.

Matt Major was highly respected for his work with the Sussex FA | Picture: Sussex County FAMatt Major was highly respected for his work with the Sussex FA | Picture: Sussex County FA
Matt Major was highly respected for his work with the Sussex FA | Picture: Sussex County FA

“His first footballing role in the county, came in 1992, when he began sponsoring Shoreham, the club he would eventually chair and own in 2007. Indeed, his time at Shoreham would see the club introduce and integrate youth football, culminating in numerous League and Cup triumphs throughout his tenure.

“Spells as Director of Worthing between 1995 and 2001, as well as Vice Chairman of Southwick between 2002 and 2003, followed in the intervening years. During his time at Worthing, he met Dick Knight, the then Chairman of Brighton & Hove Albion. Together they agreed that Brighton's Reserves should play their matches at Worthing’s Woodside Road ground, whilst the first team were playing at Gillingham.

“In business, Matt spent his career in the waste and recycling industry, which saw him run several large recycling contracts, including the BBC for 8 years, IBM UK for 12 years and American Express Europe for 22 years. This industry experience saw him take on the role of Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses for eight years, representing 900 local businesses in the Sussex area.

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“2009 saw Matt join the Sussex County FA, first as a Council Member, and then a Director from 2011, and Deputy Chairman in October 2013. Following the passing of Peter Bentley in November 2013, Matt was elected as Chairman of the organisation in January 2014 and more recently combined that role with the position of FA Representative.

“Matt’s tenure as our Chairman saw a number of notable changes take place. He was instrumental in the restructure of the Association and the growth of the Board of Directors.

“Out on the grass, Matt’s staunch support of the Sussex Disability Football League helped it grow into the inclusive success that it is today, and that is in no small part thanks to his considerable input, be that behind the scenes or cheering the teams on from the sidelines.

“Yet it was his work in overseeing the approval for, and subsequent construction of the 3G pitch at our headquarters in Culver Road, Lancing, that is one of his most notable contributions, and will be his lasting legacy.”

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The CEO of the Sussex County FA, Ken Benham, said: “Matt will be greatly missed by all of us, and we pass on our deepest condolences to his family.

“Matt’s passion for Sussex football was undeniable, mix that in with his professional business acumen, it made him the perfect chairman for our organisation.

“Although he was more than a chairman to many volunteers, coaches, players, referees and so on across the game, he was also their friend. He would always make himself available and accessible, championing our football for all ethos.

“I know his passing will be felt across the Sussex football family, and beyond that nationally at The FA, but none more so than here at the Sussex County FA, an organisation he served so diligently and professionally.

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“On personal note, Matt was a confidant and real support to me in my role as chief executive, and for that he has my upmost appreciation and respect, thank you Matt and rest in peace reflecting on a job well done.”