The Sport England chief executive, David Moffett, stunned the Government yesterday by announcing that he is to resign for personal reasons less than a year after taking up the appointment.
The Australian will stay in the post until spring next year, but his announcement comes at a difficult time for the organisation – formerly known as the Sports Council – after Trevor Brooking stepped down as chairman last week without a successor having been appointed.
Moffett took up the £140,000-a-year post in January 2002 and was given a brief by the Sports Minister, Richard Caborn, of driving through a programme of change at the organisation, which distributes Lottery funds to sport and works to develop sport at grass-roots level.
The Doncaster-born Moffett, who had held similar posts running rugby league in Australia and rugby union in New Zealand, said: "Ninety-five per cent of my job will have been completed by the time we move into our HQ in the spring.
"I have put in place a modernised sporting body ready to lead the sporting future of this nation. I have, and will continue to enjoy my time at Sport England, but an agent of change only has a certain shelf life.
"Some time ago I decided that I had the right management team and structures in place, and that next year would be time to hand over the reins to someone else.
"I am supremely confident that the vast majority of tasks required to deliver a new Sport England will have been achieved by next March and thus feel it is the right time to go."
Caborn admitted the news had been entirely unexpected. "David has led Sport England extremely effectively since his appointment and has played a major role in refocusing the organisation to meet the needs of the sporting community in the future," he said. "David's help, support and advice has been of great benefit to me since his arrival. His enthusiasm and can-do mentality will be missed.
"David will continue to lead Sport England until next March, but we must turn our attention to finding David's successor. The search for a talented and energetic chief executive begins immediately."
Under Moffett, Sport England have been involved in a successful Commonwealth Games and the final go-ahead for Wembley. He will be on the interview panel for the new chairman and has told Caborn he will stay in his job until he has seen through plans for the regionalisation of Sport England.
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