Penrith are searching for their third chief executive in a year after Corey Payne left the NRL club role after just four months in charge.
The Panthers on Tuesday released a statement saying Payne had resigned and was pursuing an overseas business opportunity.
A veteran of 131 games during a 12-year playing career with St George Illawarra, Canterbury and Tigers, Payne became the youngest club CEO in NRL history at age 32 and was expected to be groomed as a successor to general manager Phil Gould when signed.
However it was reported earlier this week that Payne was being pushed out by the club’s board after butting heads with several people in the football department – claims denied by the club.
“Corey, who already has significant overseas academic qualification, wishes to pursue overseas business opportunities that have recently materialised,” the club said.
“In these circumstances the club does not wish to stand in the way of Corey pursuing these overseas opportunities and fulfilling his potential.
“The club wishes Corey, a member of the Panthers family, every future success.”
Payne took up the position in April following the departure of Justin Pascoe to the Wests Tigers CEO role in September.
Last month he was involved in a heated exchange with then Rugby League World Cup chief executive Michael Brown that led to Brown’s departure.
He penned a “apology letter” to the residents of western Sydney because no games for the 2017 edition of the tournament would be staged in the area.
It’s understood Brown left an expletive-laden voicemail on Payne’s phone that led to him quitting.