Former Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick is to stand down as chairman of the Rugby Football League.
Barwick, who has served two terms since succeeding Maurice Watkins in February 2013, will hand over the reins at the RFL’s annual meeting in July when former Arsenal and England footballer Tony Adams takes over as president.
As he approaches his 65th birthday, the RFL has announced Barwick will also relinquish his roles as chairman of both Super League and the 2021 World Cup but retain his involvement in rugby league by becoming president of the latter organisation.
Simon Johnson, who is currently the RFL’s senior independent director, will act as interim chair from July 24 until a new permanent appointment is made.
In a letter to clubs, Barwick wrote: “It has been an absolute privilege and pleasure to be at the helm of such a wonderful sport for the past six years and more.
“However I feel it is the right time to give somebody else the chance to take the sport forward. And I will offer my unequivocal support to them.
“On a personal note I celebrate my own 65th birthday soon and, with over four decades in and around top-class sport behind me, I feel it is time now to scale back on some of my wide range of activities.
“I do believe the sport, at all levels, has a good future. And already I think this season there has been signs of a freshness about our elite competitions.”
RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said: “Brian has shown real leadership since he took on the role of chairman and has been a great figurehead for the sport.
— RLWC2021 (@RLWC2021) April 3, 2019
“He truly loves the sport and his passion for it, and the people within it, has shone through over his six years in charge.
“He has been a key driver in helping navigate through what have been some choppy waters and now steps down having delivered some real change.
“He is thoroughly deserving of his new RLWC2021 role and beyond that will always be welcome in our sport. We would hope to see plenty of him in the future.”
Super League chief executive Rob Elstone is expected to take on Barwick’s duties in Super League, while the RFL’s nominations committee will agree a process for the filling of the other vacancies.
Barwick led the RFL’s bid to host the 2021 Rugby League World Cup and will retain a role by becoming its president.
RLWC2021 chief executive Jon Dutton said: “Brian has been an integral part of the RLWC2021 journey from chairing the original bid back in 2016.
“On behalf of the RLWC2021 board I would like to record our appreciation to Brian for his significant contribution, leadership and guidance.
“His new role as president will give him the chance to continue to influence the tournament at a senior level.”