Ian Ritchie, who has been in charge of the All England Lawn Tennis Club since 2005, will leave the host of the Wimbledon Championships to become the new head of England’s Rugby Football Union
Ritchie will be taking over from acting RFU Chief Executive Officer Stephen Brown, who will be going back to his position as chief financial officer, the RFU said in a statement on its website.
Ritchie was chosen for his “outstanding mix of business experience, leadership skills and the innate understanding of the sporting world,” the RFU said.
Ritchie has more than three decades experience in business, media and sport. He was appointed to the board of English soccer’s Football League in 2004 as its first independent director, and he is also a director for Wembley Stadium Ltd.
“We will be sorry to lose Ian,” Philip Brook, chairman of the All England Club, said in an e-mailed statement. “The search for a successor will start immediately and in the meantime it is very much business as usual at Wimbledon. The experience and professionalism of our team is such that we can look forward with complete confidence to maintaining Wimbledon as one of the world’s leading sporting events.”
Ritchie, who will join the RFU after serving out his notice period at Wimbledon, said the decision to leave had been “a difficult one.”
“I have been fortunate to work for a wonderful organization and am extremely proud of what it has achieved over the past few years,” he said.
Ritchie will join the RFU after a difficult year. Martin Johnson quit as England’s national rugby team coach on Nov. 16 after his squad was knocked out of the quarterfinals of the World Cup in New Zealand. Johnson also had to deal with off-field events involving players and staff.
England will host rugby’s World Cup in 2015.
“I believe English rugby has a very bright future,” Ritchie said. “I am determined to help rugby create a legacy from the tournament that will benefit the sport for generations to come.”