The Premier League was dealt a major embarrassment on Sunday night after the woman hired to take over as chief executive of England’s top tier changed her mind almost two months after accepting the job.
The world’s richest domestic football competition is now facing a race against time to recruit a new long-term boss after Susanna Dinnage decided over Christmas that she wanted to remain in broadcasting as a television executive with Discovery.
Dinnage, who was announced as Richard Scudamore’s successor in November, had stunned league officials over her change of heart. The Premier League is now unlikely to have a long-term chief executive in place for the remainder of the season.
Scudamore formally stood down before Christmas following 19 years at the helm, with Dinnage, global president of Discovery’s Animal Planet brand, due to take over the role early next year.
Richard Masters will remain as interim chief executive, while Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, Leicester chief executive Susan Whelan and Burnley chairman Mike Garlick begin a fresh recruitment process in haste. Tim Davie, who runs BBC Studios, and Tom Betts, ITV’s strategy director, are among the front-runners, having featured on a previous shortlist.
The process to recruit Dinnage, who had yet to agree a start date, has been turbulent. The initial appointment was overshadowed by revelations in the same week that Scudamore would receive a £5 million golden goodbye.
The Premier League announced Dinnage’s change of heart in a brief statement. “Despite her commitment to the Premier League in early November, Susanna Dinnage has now advised the nominations committee that she will not be taking up the position of chief executive,” it read. “The committee has reconvened its search and is talking to candidates. There will be no further comment until an appointment is made.”
The choice of Dinnage, a television executive with more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, illustrated how negotiating future pay deals with broadcasters are considered by far the most crucial part of the job.
The 51-year-old, who has worked for the past decade at Discovery, has given up the chance to become the most powerful woman in British sport. The Fulham supporter, who lives in west London, was expected to receive a pay packet at least matching that of Scudamore, who earned a basic wage of £900,000 a year, but received closer to £2.5 million with bonuses.
“I am excited at the prospect of taking on this fantastic role,” she had said on Nov 13. “The Premier League means so much to so many people.”
Dinnage’s appointment had taken the football world by surprise. Her only involvement in sport was when she ran Discovery’s British and Irish operation, which included responsibility for Eurosport, but she had been described as the “outstanding choice” by Buck. Former colleagues said she would have been a “breath of fresh air” for governing bodies dominated by grey men in blazers.
Scudamore leaves a daunting legacy, having brokered record-breaking TV deals for the clubs, currently totalling £2.8 billion in global-rights pay packets. The league has already raised £8.3 billion alone for 2019 to 2022 and could go as high as £9 billion, a 20 per cent uplift on the previous deal.
The Premier League is also searching for a new chairman, who is likely to work on a part-time basis. Claudia Arney is filling the role on an interim basis.
Scudamore announced in June that he would step down from his role as executive chairman. In November, the league rubber-stamped a £5 million pay cheque spread over three years to stop him joining a rival outfit. He is likely to provide consultative advice for the league in their fresh search for a successor.
Scudamore has already earned almost £30 million during his two decades in charged.
Credit: Source link