By Ben Klayman and Joe Rauch

DETROIT/CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - The National Football League's chief financial officer is leaving his post to return to Goldman Sachs Group Inc, after two years on the job, the league announced on Monday.

Noto had previously worked at Goldman Sachs as an equities analyst for 9 years.

He ran Goldman's communications, media and entertainment research team before leaving for the NFL.

His move comes as the league -- arguably the largest and most successful in U.S. pro sports -- is preparing for a showdown with its players' union.

Eric Grubman, the NFL's executive vice president of business operations, will oversee the league's finance group during the league's collective bargaining negotiations with the NFL Players' Association, the league said.

Senior vice presidents Joe Siclare, Neil Glat and Mike Smith will continue in their current roles at the NFL. Siclare is treasurer and oversees club finance. Glat manages corporate development, while Smith manages finance and administration.

The NFL, which kicked off its season two weeks ago, boasts a U.S. fan base of more than 180 million, strong television ratings and annual revenue topping $8 billion.

However, it could be the last season before a work stoppage as the 32 owners in 2008 terminated their labor contract with the players union early in a move to cut salary costs. They cited rising payments to cover stadium construction, operations and improvements.

Should a new deal not be reached before next season, players expect the owners to lock them out.

(Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)