The Rugby Football Union has been searching for a new Chief Executive Officer since they parted ways with Steve Brown in November.
Brown had only been in the role for 15 months, but the union had faced challenging financial times during his tenure, with the RFU posting losses of £30.9m for the last financial year, as well as having made numerous redundancies in a cost-cutting exercise.
There had also been talk of reducing the match fees paid to England players, whilst the renovation of the East Stand at Twickenham, which was completed last year, ended up costing £26m over budget, at a total cost of close to £80m.
The RFU has confirmed that Bill Sweeney, the former British Olympic Association CEO, is set to take up the same position at the RFU.
Sweeney had been at the BOA since 2013, after leaving his role as Head of Global Business Development at Puma. His role at the BOA saw him oversee sporting, commercial, brand and communications departments, as well as being in overall charge of the BOA’s preparation for the summer and winter Olympics.
Speaking on the hire, RFU chairman Andy Cosslett had the following to say.
“We are delighted to announce Bill’s appointment as CEO. He brings a rare combination of experience from the worlds of blue chip business and elite sport and has a tremendous track record in both. His passion for the game is deep rooted and this will stand him in very good stead.”
The RFU had reportedly been looking for someone to fill the void who could help get the organisation back on a sound financial footing and they will be putting their faith in Sweeney, who also has time at Adidas on his CV, where he was the Senior Vice-President of Global Apparel.
Sweeney was also quick to acknowledge his strong feelings towards the game in the announcement of his arrival.
“I leave behind a very strong British Olympic Association, both financially and in readiness for Tokyo 2020. This is the only opportunity that I would have left the BOA for. From the grassroots game to our England teams, rugby’s values and opportunities are very special. I am passionate about the game and it is an honour to be joining the RFU team.”
Previously, the England head coach has reported to the RFU’s CEO and with the union in search of a new coach after the upcoming Rugby World Cup, Sweeney’s imminent arrival could mean he is included in the job search, although Nigel Melville will continue to act as Interim Chief Executive until Sweeney arrives, with dates to be agreed soon.
Watch: The England players in training during the Six Nations rest week
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