Major William Sudell (1851–1911) was an English association football player and administrator, who was the first chairman of Preston North End. He joined the Preston Nelson sports club on 3 August 1867, aged 16. Initially a player of several sports, by his mid-twenties he had become chairman of the club. In 1880 the club decided to play football exclusively, and from the following year Sudell managed the team.
To aid the performances of his team, Sudell recruited several Scottish players, giving them nominal jobs in the cotton mill he managed. After a dispute arising from payments to players resulted in Preston's withdrawal from the 1884 FA Cup, Sudell became an outspoken proponent of professionalism. His actions resulted in the acceptance of professionalism by the Football Association (FA), and led to Preston becoming the leading team of the early professional era. Under Sudell's leadership, Preston North End became founder members of the Football League, and won a league and cup double, going unbeaten for the entire season.
Sudell's career as a football administrator ended in disgrace, when in 1895 he was found guilty of fraudulently redirecting funds from the mill to the football club. Sudell was sentenced to three years' imprisonment. Upon his release, he emigrated to South Africa, where he died in 1911.Close