English Premier League picks a senior Discovery executive to be its first female chief 

Key Points
  • Susanna Dinnage will take over from outgoing Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore in early 2019.
  • Dinnage will join from media organization Discovery, where she was the global president of the Animal Planet channel.
  • Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck leading call for £5 million ($6.47 million) farewell gift from Premier League sides for Scudamore.
Susanna Dinnage speaks onstage at the Discovery Communications Summer TCA Event 2018.
Amanda Edwards | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

The English Premier League (EPL) is the most watched soccer competition in the world and from early 2019 it will have a new chief executive.

Susanna Dinnage will take up the role, it was announced Tuesday, when the current chief Richard Scudamore steps down at the end of the year.

Dinnage is a season ticket holder at EPL side Fulham, but is a relative unknown on the U.K. soccer scene and will be the first female to hold the position. She joins from media organization Discovery, where she was the global president of the Animal Planet channel.

During her time there she also oversaw Eurosport's bid to secure pan-European rights to the Olympic Games.

There has been no official start date set for Dinnage to begin her new role just yet, but it's expected to be some time in the first quarter of 2019.

"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 organization is a great privilege," Dinnage said in a Premier League statement.

Scudamore leaves quite a legacy of 19 years in charge, which has seen the Premier League's value skyrocket. Domestic TV rights were worth around $868 million when he took charge, but are now worth $6.66 billion after the last set of bidding. However, that figure was slightly down on the total paid for the previous deal, which expires at the end of the current season.

For the first time Amazon Prime will be showing games from next season, as well as existing broadcast partners Sky and BT.

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It's believed that Dinnage will at least be paid the same as her predecessor, matching his base salary of just over a million dollars a year. That number jumps to over $3.2 million when potential bonuses are factored in.

Bruce Buck, the chairman of Chelsea soccer club and the Premier League's Nominations Committee, said: "We are very pleased to appoint such a capable leader to this important role." He went on to say: "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."

Buck has also been taking a lead role in organizing a contribution of £250,000 ($323,605) from all the 20 Premier League clubs for Scudamore's farewell gift.

There will be several key issues for Dinnage when she does formally take up the position, not least dealing with the potential threat of a breakaway European Super League involving some of England's top clubs.

Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester United agreed a deal in June this year, whereby they will receive a greater share of the league's overseas rights revenues, which currently stands at $4.2 billion.

Keeping the status quo together will be one of her biggest challenges, as well as dealing with any possible Brexit fallout for foreign players.

Then there's the growing concerns surrounding rising agents fees and grassroots soccer spending following the collapsed bid by American-Pakistani billionaire Shahid Khan to buy Wembley Stadium last month.

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