A former boss at American Express is to take charge of Albion in the Community after the charity’s founders quit suddenly.

Michael Edwards, previously a senior vice president with American Express, has been appointed interim chief executive of Brighton and Hove Albion’s community arm. The joint managing directors of Albion in the Community (AITC), Dr Alan Sanders and Steve Ford, will step down in the summer. Mr Edwards will report to the charity’s chairman of trustees, Dick Knight, and to the club’s chief executive, Paul Barber.

He took up his new role yesterday. Mr Knight said: “It was a shock when Alan and Steve told me they wanted to step down. “I have worked with them both for a long time and I have the highest admiration for them. “ Everyone who loves the club should love Albion in the Community and these are the two men who put it where it is. “It is a highlight regarded by the Football Association and the Premiership. “I had no hesitation in asking Michael Edwards to take over as chief executive. “I knew he had stepped down at American Express so it was the perfect opportunity.”

Albion chief executive Paul Barber said: “We are delighted that Michael has agreed to step in to support AITC at this time. “He is well known by everyone within both AITC and the football club. “Michael will be a welcome and hugely valuable addition to the charity at this time.”

Mr Edwards said: “I’m very familiar with AITC’s fantastic contribution to our community and I have admired the charity’s rapid growth in recent years.

“It’s an honour to be asked to support the organisation through the next phase in its development and I look forward to working with AITC’s staff, partners, and the football club to build on the good work already being done.”

Dr Sanders said: “It is a strange feeling after 10 years at the club, but I have been thinking for some time that I want to explore new challenges. “Michael is the ideal person to come in and work with us to carry AITC forward.”