The Premier League has appointed television executive Susanna Dinnage to take over from Richard Scudamore as its new boss.
Currently global president of Discovery’s Animal Planet brand, Dinnage will start at the Premier League early in the new year.
She joined Discovery in 2009 and previously ran its British and Irish operation, which included responsibility for Eurosport.
Scudamore has run English football’s top flight since 1999 but announced his intention to step down as its executive chairman earlier this year.
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, Burnley chairman Mike Garlick and Leicester chief executive Susan Whelan led the recruitment process to find the new chief executive and they will now begin looking for a non-executive chairman, as the roles are being split again.
In a statement, Dinnage said: “I am excited at the prospect of taking on this fantastic role. The Premier League means so much to so many people.
“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.”
Buck described her as “the outstanding choice” from a “very strong field” of candidates.
“She is a leading figure in the broadcasting industry, a proven business executive and a great developer of people,” said Buck.
“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.”
The announcement was made after a hastily-arranged meeting with club chairmen and chief executives in London on Tuesday. Such was the short notice that most of them took part via conference call.
Earlier on Tuesday, it was reported by the Daily Mail that Buck had asked the 20 clubs to all contribute £250,000 each to give Scudamore a £5million send-off as thanks for his work in repeatedly negotiating inflation-busting broadcast deals. The Premier League, however, has refused to comment on that story.
Dinnage’s appointment will come as a surprise to many as she was not mentioned among the early runners and riders, who included former Prime Minister Tony Blair at one stage and more plausibly BBC Studios boss Tim Davie and ITV director of strategy Tom Betts.
But experience of the broadcasting landscape is the key consideration for this job and Dinnage has that in spades, having started her career at MTV and then progressed to Channel Five.
During her time at Discovery, Eurosport was linked with a bid for Premier League broadcast rights and it snapped up the European rights for the Olympics between 2018 and 2024.
Following Dinnage’s appointment, Football Association chairman Greg Clarke said: “We are delighted that Susanna Dinnage will be appointed Chief Executive of the Premier League in early 2019.
“The FA and the Premier League have a strong and successful relationship and we look forward to building on that under Susanna’s new leadership. As part of the selection process The FA was required to ratify the appointment – and The FA Board was unanimous.
“Once again, we would like to reiterate our thanks to Richard Scudamore for his passion and dedication to English football over the past 20 years. On behalf of The FA, we would like to wish him the very best for the future.”