Kim Deshayes, the chief executive of the English Rugby Partnership (ERP) – the body set up by leading clubs to give them a greater say in the sport – has resigned after only 18 months.
Deshayes, along with his opposite number at the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the sport’s governing body, was responsible for bringing Allied Dunbar into the sport when it agreed to sponsor two Premier Leagues for 7.5m over three years.
He also created a new 24-club knockout competition called the Cheltenham & Gloucester Cup, which begins next week, with the final in April.
Deshayes will take up a new job in January as managing director of Newmarket, one of the leading horse racing venues in the country. He says: “It is my decision to go. I thought the time was right for a change. At Newmarket I will be looking to open the sport out to a wider audience.”
However, one source close to the RFU says that the ERP was keen to find a chief executive with rugby experience.
“Kim did a fine job marketing the body, but the board felt that as time went on it was better to get somebody with a greater feel for the game,” says the source.
Previously, Deshayes was managing director of sports advertising and sponsorship company Sports & Outdoor Media until 1996, and before that marketing manager of the then Test & County Cricket Board.
The ERP is currently interviewing candidates for a replacement for Deshayes.