UK pay-TV heavyweight Sky Group has announced that Sky UK and Ireland chief executive and group chief commercial officer Stephen van Rooyen will leave the business at the end of February.

As a result of this decision, the Sky UK and Ireland arm will instead report directly to group chief executive Dana Strong.

Strong has now said: “I would like to thank Stephen for his very significant contribution to Sky over the past 18 years. He has played an instrumental role in developing and building our brand, developing and launching our products, taking our UK business into new markets, leading our people, and ensuring our customers are at the heart of everything we do.

“He has delivered significant growth for our company and leaves an impressive legacy of achievements. Together with all of my colleagues, we wish him well for the future.”

Van Rooyen added: “I have taken the decision that now is the right time for me to leave Sky. The business today has everything it needs to compete to win. We have strong leadership, led by Dana, a world-class team, and a fantastic plan.”

Van Rooyen has not yet made it clear what job he will take on next.

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He first took the role of chief executive for Sky’s UK and Ireland operations in 2016, having previously been chief marketing and digital officer.

Van Rooyen joined Sky from rival Virgin Media in 2006 as director of product management, and became managing director of sales and marketing in 2011, before being promoted to chief marketing and digital officer in July 2014.

Strong, meanwhile, has been Sky's group CEO since January 2021, and before that held senior positions at Comcast, Virgin Media, and Liberty Global.

Sky, in terms of its UK sports rights portfolio, extended its rights deal covering the prestigious British Open golf event until 2028 this week, as well as renewing its rights in the UK to cover golf’s US PGA Championship for the next three editions, in mid-November.

The pay-TV heavyweight holds the majority of top-tier domestic rights covering soccer and cricket in the UK, while also having rights deals in place covering major North American leagues such as basketball's NBA and American football's NFL.

Men's soccer's English Premier League, for which Sky holds joint live rights until 2029, is very much the jewel in its sporting crown.