Susanna Dinnage has been named as the new chief executive of the Premier League, replacing Richard Scudamore.
Dinnage joins from media organisation Discovery, where she was the global president of the Animal Planet channel.
Scudamore, 59, is stepping down next month after 19 years at the helm.
“I am excited at the prospect of taking on this fantastic role. The Premier League means so much to so many people,” said Dinnage, who will begin her new job early in 2019.
“It represents the pinnacle of professional sport and the opportunity to lead such a dynamic and inspirational organisation is a great privilege.
“With the support of clubs and the team, I look forward to extending the success of the league for many years to come.”
Dinnage will become just the third person to lead the Premier League, after Scudamore and his predecessor Rick Parry.
Prior to joining Discovery in January 2009, Dinnage worked for 10 years at Channel Five and she started her career at MTV.
“We are very pleased to appoint such a capable leader to this important role,” said Bruce Buck, Chelsea’s chairman and chair of the Premier League’s nominations committee.
“We had a very strong field, but Susanna was the outstanding choice given her track record in managing complex businesses through transformation and digital disruption.
“She is a leading figure in the broadcasting industry, a proven business executive and a great developer of people. She is ideally suited to the role and we are confident she will be able to take the Premier League on to new heights.
“Richard Scudamore, having provided exceptional stewardship for almost 20 years, will leave us at the end of the year in great shape and with an excellent executive team and board able to fully support Susanna.”
Scudamore was the Premier League’s executive chairman but the top-flight clubs had already agreed to split his role. The search for a non-executive chair will now begin, the league said.
When she takes up her role in the new year, Susanna Dinnage will become the most senior female leader in the world’s major professional sports leagues. And because of the commercial wealth, global popularity and cultural influence of the Premier League, arguably the most powerful figure in British sport.
Although she is a Fulham season-ticket holder, Dinnage does not have experience within the football industry, and some traditional match-going fans will worry that the appointment of a media executive reinforces the sense that professional football is in thrall to television.
But with sports audience habits shifting, a decrease in the value of the latest domestic TV rights deal, and new digital challengers emerging in the market, Dinnage’s experience of tough negotiations at Discovery should also be useful.
However, with the biggest clubs jostling for more of a share of overseas TV revenue, the task of emulating outgoing Richard Scudamore and keeping the cosmopolitan league’s billionaire owners unified will be a challenging one.
With Brexit looming, relations with the FA and the government will be priorities, along with the regulation of agents, and reviewing the sport’s close relationship with the gambling industry. And after the recent collapse of the sale of Wembley to Shahid Khan, many in the game will hope that Dinnage also persuades the clubs to invest more of their wealth towards grassroots facilities and player welfare at academies.