Hewitt to step down as Saints chairman

Saints chairman Tony Hewitt will be stepping down this summer
Saints chairman Tony Hewitt will be stepping down this summer

Saints have announced that chairman Tony Hewitt will be stepping down as chairman at the end of the season.

Current deputy chairman John White will be the man who takes over at Franklin’s Gardens.

Hewitt initially took over as acting chairman during Leon Barwell’s illness and was eventually confirmed in the role on a permanent basis in September, 2013, three months after Barwell passed away.

Since then, Hewitt has overseen a double-winning season, in 2013/14, when Saints secured the Aviva Premiership title and Amlin Challenge Cup crown.

They were to finish top of the Premiership table for the first time during the following season, but the past two campaigns have proved more challenging.

Saints finished fifth last season and are currently eighth this time round.

Hewitt has decided now is the right time for White, a former Saints player, to take the club forward and address future challenges.

And Hewitt, who also oversaw the completion of the Barwell Stand in 2016, said: “The Saints has been a massive part of my life for the best part of 30 years.

“We’ve had some brilliant times and experienced emotions at both ends of the spectrum.

“From the playing perspective it was tremendous to be a part of the club when we won the Heineken Cup in 2000, and then to have the unprecedented run of cup finals and trophies between 2008 and 2014 after having also experienced the lows of relegation in 2007 in between.

“And I’m proud to have been involved with the club while we have turned Franklin’s Gardens into a stadium that is the envy of other clubs in the Aviva Premiership and in Europe.”

Today’s announcement follows chief executive Allan Robson’s decision to retire this summer, which was made public last week.

Saints are on the lookout for a new CEO and hope to start interviewing candidates next month.

Hewitt added: “At 68 years old, with the recent board appointments, new £1 million investment, and with a new CEO joining the club, I feel the time will be right for me to hand over the chairmanship at the end of the season as we enter another new exciting and challenging era for Northampton Saints.”

Hewitt has been a part of the management of the Saints for nearly 30 years, having first become involved in 1988.

He joined the board of directors in 1995 when the game went professional, stepping up to be deputy chairman in 2011.

Hewitt has played a major role with Keith Barwell in the transformation of the club from the amateur era to the successful Premiership organisation it is today.

He played a leading role in the initial share offer for Northampton Saints plc in 2000 and spearheaded the development of Franklin’s Gardens from a collection of wooden and temporary stands into the state-of-the-art arena that it now is.

New chairman White was appointed to the club’s board of directors in November 2012.

He has spent all his working life in the house building industry, notably at Persimmon plc, where he was group chief executive and then group chairman until April 2011.

He is currently group chairman of McCarthy and Stone plc, the UK retirement home specialist.

Colin Povey will become deputy chairman.

Povey, a board member at Franklin’s Gardens for 16 years, has significant experience leading high profile companies, notably Carlsberg UK and, until recently, Warwickshire County Cricket Club, where he oversaw the redevelopment of Edgbaston into one of the country’s leading cricket stadiums.

He is currently non-executive chairman of England Netball and played water polo for Great Britain.

Hewitt will continue on the board of directors in a non-executive capacity.