Susanna Dinnage: who is the Premier League’s new chief executive?
She will replace Richard Scudamore when he steps down next month
Susanna Dinnage has been named as the new chief executive of the Premier League in a decision that has surprised English football.
She will replace Richard Scudamore, who steps down at the end of next month after 19 years in the position.
“I am excited at the prospect of taking on this fantastic role,” says Dinnage, who arrives from media organisation Discovery, where she was global president of the Animal Planet channel.
“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.”
A female first
The appointment of Dinnage, a season-ticket holder at Fulham, represents a new chapter in the history of the Premier League. She will be the first woman to become chief executive, following reigns by Scudamore and before him, Rick Parry.
As the BBC notes, she is now “the most senior female leader in the world’s major professional sports”.
“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.”
According to BBC sports editor Dan Roan, Dinnage’s lack of experience in the football industry will be offset by her tough negotiating skills. That will be important in a world where sports audience habits are changing as traditional broadcasters are challenged by new digital outlets.
Roan says Dinnage will also need to contend with “the biggest clubs jostling for more of a share of overseas TV revenue... [and] keeping the cosmopolitan league’s billionaire owners unified will be a challenging one”.
And then there’s the impact of Brexit, and what looks to be an impending battle between the Football Association and the Premier League clubs about a reduction in overseas players.
Ahead of a meeting to discuss the issue tomorrow, one Premier League club chairman, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Times: “Clubs are just not going to agree to go from being allowed 17 overseas players to 12, that is just too drastic.”
Media reaction to Dinnage’s appointment
The Guardian: “She will face a very different landscape to her predecessor, with traditional broadcast companies challenged by digital disruptors. She will also have to deal with a set of shareholders, the Premier League clubs, who are increasingly pushing for change.”
The Times: “Dinnage has revealed that she once wanted to be a zoologist. There will be times trying to keep the 20 clubs together that she feels like she is herding fat cats… a number of mid-ranking clubs are concerned that the big six will try to use Scudamore’s departure and the arrival of new leadership as a chance to flex muscles once more.”
The Daily Telegraph: “Dinnage’s appointment took the footballing world by surprise, but former colleagues said that she would be a ‘breath of fresh air’ for governing bodies currently dominated by grey men in blazers.”
The Sun: “She is arguably the most powerful person in British sport [and] fans will be keen to nudge Dinnage over ticket prices, bizarre kick-off times and safe standing.”