UK Sport announces today that John Steele has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer. Mr Steele is currently Executive Director at Northampton Saints Rugby Football Club, where he was also successful as both a player and coach. He is also a Director of Premier Rugby and the English Rugby Board, the body responsible for managing the game at elite level in England, but will now be stepping down from these positions.
John Steele will start his appointment on 1 July 2005, following three weeks trekking up Mount Everest to raise money for Sport Against Racism and the rugby injuries charity SPIRE.
Sue Campbell, Chairman of UK Sport, welcomes the appointment:
"To be truly world class as an organisation we need world class leadership and this is what John Steele offers. He has a real vision and passion for sport in this country which, allied to his experience at the highest level in rugby, makes him the ideal candidate. We have a tremendously strong team at UK Sport, one that I am very proud to lead, and I know that John will both complement and enhance their ability to bring more sporting success to this country."
Following a period of reform, UK Sport is now clearly focused on the world class delivery of its three responsibilities: improving the performance of our elite athletes at Olympic and Paralympic level; increasing the UK's impact in the international sporting world and the number of major events held here; and leading the fight for ethical, drug-free sport through both testing and educational campaigns.
John Steele says:
"I am delighted to be joining an organisation at the forefront of British sport at such an exciting time. The reality of our work leading up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008 is matched by the potential of a successful bid for London in 2012. For me this is irresistible, as is the chance to move from a focus on one sport to dealing with many.
"I am also very impressed with what I have seen so far of UK Sport and the people working hard within it to deliver sporting success. It is clear to me this organisation is serious in its desire to become world class in everything that it does. I share that ambition and very much look forward to playing my part."
John Steele joined Northampton Saints in 1988, played for the club as fly-half for seven years and still holds the record for the most points scored in one season with 425. An England squad member, he played for England 'A' against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. While in the army, he captained the Combined Services team.
In 1999 he took over as Director of Rugby at Northampton from Ian McGeechan and coached the side to become European Champions in 2000, as well as Tetley Bitter Cup finalists.
He moved from coaching in 2001, becoming Executive Director and overseeing the playing and operational sides of the business. In that time, the club has floated on the stock market and emerged as a profitable business, while Franklin Gardens has been redeveloped to become one of the best club grounds in the country.
A former Sandhurst-trained Royal Artillery Captain, and a qualified Chartered Surveyor, John Steele is aged 40 and is married with twin girls.