Northampton Saints have announced that Leon Barwell is to step down as their chairman with immediate effect.
Barwell made the call based on health advice.
Although he only took over the chairmanship in September 2011, Barwell has overseen the next stage in the Saints' development as a club, both on and off the pitch.
On the field the team reached the finals of both the Aviva Premiership (2013) and LV= Cup (2012), while also providing nine players to four countries at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, a record number of players to the England Elite Player Squads, and more Academy players to the national age group system than any other Aviva Premiership club.
Meanwhile away from the pitch the Saints maintained its place as the only Aviva Premiership club to be consistently profitable and financially self-sustaining.
Barwell said that the decision had been taken after long deliberation with his family, and that none of the achievements would have been possible without their backing and that of the Saints supporters.
"I have greatly enjoyed my time being chairman of this great club, and this is a decision that has not been taken lightly," he commented.
"A lot of thought has gone into the decision, along with lengthy discussions with my family. I believe that the time is right for me to step aside, safe in the knowledge that we are on the right track, on and off the pitch.
"Over the past 18 months we have continued to improve and grow as a club. This would not have been possible without the hard work put in by everyone behind the scenes at Franklin's Gardens, and I'd like to thank the staff for their continuing commitment.
"I would also like to thank the Saints supporters, who make the club what it is. Home and away they give the team wholehearted backing, and although there have been ups and downs, especially this season, I believe we have built up a good relationship.
"With six finals in six seasons, and the club continuing its good financial performance, the Saints is certainly heading in the right direction. I trust the board in making the right decision as to who the new chairman will be, and I will be giving him or her my total support."
Although he is stepping down as chairman, Barwell is remaining on the Saints' board of directors. The Barwell family will maintain its majority shareholding of Northampton Saints plc, with Keith Barwell and Ella Bevan also retaining their directorships.
Vice-chairman Tony Hewitt becomes acting chairman while the board goes through the due process of finding a new chairman.
"Leon has been an outstanding chairman of Northampton Saints, and someone who has worked unstintingly to take the club to the next level," Mr Hewitt commented.
"On behalf of everyone associated with Northampton Saints I thank Leon for everything that he has done. Of course the Barwells will continue to be a big part of the Saints going forward, with Leon, Keith and Ella all remaining on the board.
"We will be taking our time to decide who will be the next chairman of Northampton Saints, and will make an announcement in due course."
Northampton Saints will be making no further comment at this time, and asks that the privacy of the Barwell family be respected.