Nick Townsend is appointed as SJA secretary

The SJA is pleased to announce that our new secretary, with immediate effect, is Nick Townsend.

Newly appointed SJA Secretary Nick Townsend
Newly appointed SJA Secretary Nick Townsend

Townsend replaces long-serving Steven Downes, who has decided to step down after 11 years in the role. Downes will continue as website editor having overseen a recent relaunch.

SJA chairman Andy Elliott paid tribute to Downes, saying: “Steven put an enormous amount into the secretary’s role, at times seeming to carry the SJA on his shoulders.

“I think I speak for all previous chairmen in saluting his attention to detail, his organisation and his grasp of a wide range of subjects.

“Recently, he’s put a lot of work into the redesign and relaunch of our website and that will continue as the SJA looks to evolve and provide more services and support for our members.”

Downes, who joined the committee in 2003, became secretary two years later. During his tenure, the Association’s membership has more than doubled, and it has staged a number of innovative new events, including Question Time debates and its first diversity forum earlier this year. His work behind the scenes for both the SJA British Sports Awards and British Sports Journalism Awards may have been unheralded but his value has long been recognised by his colleagues on the committee.

Townsend is a former Daily Mail sports feature writer and football correspondent and chief sports writer of the Independent on Sunday. He is now a freelance journalist and an author. His books include collaborations with Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Ben Ainslie on their autobiographies.

His first public role will be next month when the SJA hosts the 68th British Sports Awards at The Pavilion at the Tower of London on December 15.

Elliott added: “It’s great to have a sports journalist of Nick’s calibre and experience on board and all of us look forward to working with him and wish him well in the new role.”

Townsend said: “As someone who has been involved in the industry since the 1980s I’m delighted to be able to contribute to the development of the SJA and work with people of the calibre of our chairman Andy Elliott and vice-chair Janine Self.”