Brian Mawhinney, the former cabinet minister and president of the Football League, died after a long illness at the age of 79, his family said.

Lord Mawhinney, chairman of the Tory party under the reign of John Major from 1995 to 1997, died on Saturday night.

In a statement, his family said, "His death ends a life dedicated to public service and rooted in an unshakeable Christian faith. He was a beloved husband, father and grandfather and many a friend. He will be missed very much. "

Mawhinney was elected in 1979 to the deputies of Peterborough and later represented North West Cambridgeshire. He retired in 2005. From 1994 to 1997 he was a member of the Cabinet. During this time, he worked as Minister of Transport and Minister without portfolio. He was knighted in 1997 and created in 2005 a partner.

During this time he was Minister of Transport and then Minister without portfolio. "

As of 2003, Mawhinney was chairman of the Football League for seven years.

During his time at the head of the sports federation, he introduced the Fit & Personal Personal Test for prospective club directors and the publication of club expenses for brokerage fees.

In a statement, Rick Parry, chairman of the Football League, said

"All those affiliated with the EFL are saddened by the loss of Lord Mawhinney, a highly respected and influential figure in our recent past, notably because of his work as chairman of the Football League, but also because of the significant implications for them wider game.

Lord Mawhinney received a lifetime membership in 2012 for the significant contribution he made to the League during his seven-year tenure. During this time he made a number of important introductions as part of a comprehensive program to reform governance.

"He was also the driving force behind the Premier League's first solidarity agreement with the Premier League, the founding of the Football League Trust and a significant renaming to support later commercial development."

"Club owners, their respective teams and EFL staff are well remembered for Lord Mawhinney's time in the league, and our collective thoughts are with his family and friends during this sad and difficult time."