10 Dec 2019


The League Managers Association is deeply saddened following the death of LMA member and former Chief Executive, Jim Smith, at the age of 79.

Jim was one of football's most respected and well-liked personalities. As a player, he represented Aldershot, Halifax Town, Lincoln City and Colchester United. He also played for Boston United of the Northern Premier League, the club with whom he began his long managerial career.

In 1974, Jim guided Colchester United to promotion from the Football League Fourth Division and, after his time in charge at Blackburn Rovers, he took Birmingham City into the Football League First Division in 1980. His career highlights include his days at the Manor Ground when he led Oxford United to the top flight, following successive titles in the Football League Third and Second Division.

After spells with Queens Park Rangers, Newcastle United and Portsmouth, Jim became chief executive of the LMA in 1995. His time with the association was reluctantly cut short as he returned to club management that summer with Derby County. In his first season with the Rams, he guided them to promotion to the Premier League.

Following his appointments at Coventry, Portsmouth and Southampton, Jim returned to Oxford United in 2006 and was given a seat on the board of directors. 

Jim was inducted into the LMA Hall of Fame - 1,000 Club, recognising his outstanding career in management.

LMA Chairman Howard Wilkinson said: “Jim and I have known each other since our teenage years, and I have been in his debt since the day he asked me to become player-coach at Boston United where I served my apprenticeship.

“I have so many fond memories of Jim as a football manager but foremost as a friend.

“He was intelligent, passionate, determined, honest and always great fun to be with. Never one to mince his words, he was a leader in the truest sense.

“He was liked and admired by everyone around him, truly an authentic, down-to-earth gentleman.

“Above all, he was a great husband and father.”

LMA Chief Executive Richard Bevan added: “Jim was a true friend to the LMA and will be very sorely missed by his colleagues and friends.

"He was an inspiration to so many people throughout his career and a highly valued member of the LMA Hall of Fame - 1,000 Club in recognition of his contribution, achievement and legacy to the game.

“When Jim was approached by the LMA to become the association’s chief executive in 1995, he gladly accepted the responsibility, only relinquishing the position to return to management with Derby County.

“Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with his wife Yvonne and all his family and friends.”