Posted on February 23 2017
Northampton Saints has today announced that Tony Hewitt will be stepping down as the Club’s non-executive chairman at the end of the 2016/17 season.
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 and then to be chairman in June 2013 following Leon Barwell’s untimely passing. He is the longest serving director with Keith Barwell.
Hewitt has played a major role with Keith Barwell in the transformation of the club from the amateur era to the successful Aviva 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 is today.
Under Hewitt’s chairmanship the Saints won the Aviva Premiership and European Rugby Challenge Cup titles in 2014 and finished top of the Aviva Premiership table for the first time in 2015. Furthermore with the completion of the Barwell Stand in 2016 Franklin’s Gardens became a completed stadium bowl accommodating more supporters week in, week out, than at any time in the club’s history. He says that it has been an eventful and enjoyable journey to have been a part of.
“The Saints has been a massive part of my life for the best part of 30 years,” he said. “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.”
“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.”
The new chairman will be John White, who has been Hewitt’s deputy since 2013. A former Saints player himself, 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. A board member at Franklin’s Gardens for 16 years, he 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.