CHIEF executive Mike Stevens says the time is right to leave Oxfordbased London Welsh.

Stevens, who lives in Abingdon, became the Greene King IPA Championship club’s CEO on May 12 last year.

However, after being relegated back to English rugby’s second tier from the Aviva Premiership, with the lowest points total in top-flight history, Stevens has stepped down.

The club confirmed the news yesterday and say his successor will be announced shortly.

Stevens said: “The time is right for me to move on.

“I wish the club, its supporters and partners, the very best for the future – I firmly believe there are exciting times ahead.”

One of Stevens’ priorities on his appointment last year was to develop the club’s commercial and community presence in Oxfordshire.

He said: “When I arrived it was clear there were some significant challenges in developing the off-the-field activities at the club, including our commercial and community work.

“I would like to note the fantastic support we have received from the rugby clubs and schools in Oxfordshire.

“I’m happy that I leave knowing together we have made a welcome contribution.”

Kelvin Bryon, the Exiles’ owner and vice-chairman, said the club, who play at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium, would begin the process of searching for Stevens’ replacement shortly.

He said: “It is disappointing that we have agreed to let Mike go.

“He leaves behind a talented team of people who, with Mike, have made an important contribution to the club, and in doing so helped to lay the foundations for an exciting future.”

When asked if Stevens’ departure had any bearing on the club’s future at the Kassam Stadium, where they still have 24 months left on a three-year contract, Exiles spokesman Damian Dolan said: “Not as far as I am aware of.”