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Lions owner Martha Ford stepping down, will be succeeded by daughter

The Detroit Lions have a new owner.

The team announced Tuesday that Martha Firestone Ford, who took over after William Clay Ford Sr. died in 2014, has stepped down as the principal owner of the team. Sheila Ford Hamp will succeed her mother as the club's principal owner and chairman.

"It has been a great honor for our family to be associated with the Lions and with the National Football League," Firestone Ford wrote in a statement. "I am gratified that this family tradition, which my husband and I began almost six decades ago, will continue under Sheila's guiding hand. It is clear to me that Sheila will provide superb leadership and is fully committed to competitive excellence and community involvement."

Shelia Ford Hamp has been groomed to take over the ownership role from her mother and was appointed to the NFL's Super Bowl and Major Events advisory committee last year.

"My mother has inspired all of us since taking on leadership of the Lions over six years ago," Ford Hamp said in a statement. "She has been a tireless leader to our family, our team and our community. Her smart decisions have given me a solid foundation to take the team forward. On behalf of the family and the team, I want to thank her for her countless contributions. I look forward to leading the Lions to excellence on and off the field."

William Clay Ford Sr. purchased the Lions in 1963. Upon his death in 2014, Firestone Ford, 94, took over the team. Tuesday's decision to hand the keys to the franchise to Shelia Ford Hamp ensures the Ford family will continue to drive Detroit's club into the future.

"Martha Ford has led the Lions with skill and grace for the past six seasons," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "I have appreciated her business insights, her love of the game, her deep commitment to the NFL, and her personal kindness. We are pleased that the Ford family will continue to own and operate this historic franchise. Sheila Hamp has become increasingly involved in team and league affairs over the past several years and we look forward to working with her and the rest of the club's executive team."

The team's announcement in December that it expected coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn to win-or-else in 2020 included a statement from both Firestone Ford and Ford Hamp. The dual statement indicated a transition at the top could be coming down the line, and it also ensures continued pressure on Detroit's brass to win with a new owner taking over.

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