THE judging panel for the Vikki Orvice Book Prize, which is being run by Women In Football in conjunction with publishers Floodlit Dreams, has been finalised with the recruitment of an expert and experienced trio of published authors and sports journalists.

Amy Lawrence, Musa Okwonga and Sarah Shephard will join Charlotte Atyeo and Ian Ridley, Vikki’s husband and Floodlit Dreams founder, and over the next six weeks the five will deliberate on the impressive 20 submissions that were received by the March 31st deadline.

Amy is a long-serving and hugely respected football writer for The Guardian and The Observer and is the author of Invincible: Inside Arsenal’s Unbeaten 2003/4 Season, The Wenger Revolution: The Club of My Life and ’89: Arsenal’s Greatest Moment, Told In Their Own Words.

Musa, who has practised law as well as being a versatile writer, won the Junior Bridport Prize for fiction in 1994, for poetry the following year and the WH Smith Young Writers Competition the year after that. His football books include A Cultured Left Foot: The 11 Elements of Footballing Greatness and Will You Manage?: The Necessary Skills to be a Great Gaffer. He is also co-host of the Rabona podcast.

Sarah Shephard is the deputy head of content at The Coaches’ Voice website, the former features editor of Sport magazine, and has written for publications including The Times, The Times Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine and The Guardian. In 2013 she ghosted the autobiography of Olympic gymnast Louis Smith and followed that up in 2016 with her own book on women in sport – Kicking Off: How Women in Sport Are Changing the Game. She is currently working on her third book, due to be published in Spring 2020.

Said Ian Ridley: “This really is a remarkable collection of talents and I’m sure Vikki would have been impressed as well by the team we’ve put together. We have a blend of youth and age (me) and a huge amount of expertise when it comes to fine football writing and what makes a good book.

“We will all be reading the submissions in depth over the coming six weeks or so then meeting to decide on our winner, hopefully to be announced at a forthcoming WIF function.”

Jane Purdon, CEO of Women in Football, added: “We are delighted to finalise an exceptional panel of judges for the inaugural Vikki Orvice Book Prize.

“The mix of experience and expertise assembled is phenomenal and a reflection on the value of what is an incredible opportunity for one female to have their book published.”

As part of WIF’s innovative #WhatIf campaign last year, Floodlit Dreams joined forces with the organisation to invite submissions from women writers for a competition that would guarantee the winner publication of their non-fiction football book.

Following the death of WIF board member Sun sports writer Vikki from cancer at the age of 56 in February, it was agreed the prize should be named after her.

Floodlit Dreams will work with the winning writer to develop their book ready for publication, as an ebook and paperback, at a date to be agreed with the author. Floodlit Dreams will bear all costs of producing the book and share profits on a 50-50 basis with the author once costs have been recouped.