The Conservative peer Brian Mawhinney has died at the age of 79.
The Belfast-born former chairman of the Conservative Party joined the House of Lords in 2005 after standing down as MP for North West Cambridgeshire.
In 2003 he was appointed as chairman of the Football League, a role he carried out for seven years.
In a statement, his family said the “much-loved husband, father and grandfather and a friend to many” died on Saturday after a long illness.
“His death brings an end to a life dedicated to public service and rooted in an unwavering Christian faith,” the statement said.
He was first elected to the Commons in 1979 as MP for Peterborough, becoming North West Cambridgeshire MP on the creation of that constituency in 1997. He was knighted in the same year.
He had a Commons career that lasted more than 25 years, and served as transport secretary under John Major. He also served as a minister in the Northern Ireland Office for four years until 1990.
During his time as Football League chairman, Lord Mawhinney introduced the fit and proper persons test for prospective club directors and was made a life member of its successor, the EFL.
EFL chairman Rick Parry said: “Everyone associated with the EFL is saddened to hear of the loss of Lord Mawhinney, a hugely respected and influential figure in our recent past, most notably for his work as chairman of the Football League but also for the significant impact he had on the wider game.”
Former Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson paid tribute to Lord Mawhinney, calling him a “dedicated man of faith, a diligent public servant, dynamic advocate for the city and a generous mentor and supporter”.
Shailesh Vara, who succeeded Lord Mawhinney as MP for North West Cambridgeshire, tweeted: “Very sorry to hear of the sad passing of Lord Mawhinney. He was firm in his Christian faith and totally committed to public service. He will be missed by many. Thoughts and prayers with his family and friends at this difficult time.”