Chris Townsend to take on new role at Chelsea Football Club; government hails his work to extend superfast broadband coverage.

Chris Townsend, the chief executive of Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) – the government body in charge of spending public money on network infrastructure – will step down at the end of April, it emerged on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Departure of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) told Total Telecom that Townsend’s current contract was up for renewal at the end of April, and so rather than stay on, he has decided to leave BDUK to become commercial director of Chelsea Football Club. His new role becomes effective in May.

"I have enjoyed my three years as CEO of BDUK and it has been an honour and privilege to lead a high-performing team which has achieved outstanding results," said Townsend, in a statement.

Townsend joined BDUK in April 2014. During his tenure, BDUK-funded network coverage reached 4.3 million homes and businesses. 92.3% of U.K. premises now have at least 24-Mbps broadband, and the U.K. remains on track to reach 95% by this December.

"Chris brought a wealth of experience with him to the DCMS when he joined three years ago, and has overseen a remarkable transformation of the U.K.’s digital landscape," said culture secretary Karen Bradley, in a statement.

A replacement for Townsend has not been lined up yet, the DCMS’s spokesman said, but the recruitment process will start shortly.

Whoever takes over from Townsend will have a fresh chunk of public money to plough into new networks.

In November 2016, the government announced plans to allocate another £1 billion to fund new broadband infrastructure, with a particular emphasis on fibre networks and 5G trials.

Matt Hancock, minister of state for digital and culture at the DCMS, will provide an update on the state of UK broadband at Total Telecom’s third-annual Connected Britain conference, which takes place in London on 14-15 June. For more information, click here.