Football institutions may often still bear the mark of old boys’ networks, but the Premier League is getting with the programme: it has just appointed Susanna Dinnage; its first ever female chief executive.
Dinnage is currently the global president of the Discovery TV channel Animal Planet. When Dinnage takes up her new post early next year, replacing the outgoing Richard Scudamore, she’ll become arguably the most powerful person in British sport. In fact, if the Premier League is the most popular league for one of the world’s most popular spectator sports, you could extend the argument and make a case for Dinnage as one of the most important figures in global sport. Not bad for someone taking up their first role in football.
That’s not to say, however, that the 51-year-old Fulham fan isn’t the perfect person for the role. Television rights revenue makes up the vast majority of the Premier League’s finances and are therefore are at the heart of everything the corporation does. The last time the League’s domestic TV rights packages were sold, earlier this year, the deals were worth more £5bn thanks to a combination of Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon. Even recent rumours surrounding a breakaway European Super League, featuring the top English teams, are fuelled by the big football clubs’ desire for greater revenues – and that means TV money. So, Dinnage’s vast experience in top-level TV negotiations at Discovery channel – where she once took on Sky TV in a dispute over fees – and prior to that at Channel 5, where she was for a decade, having started her career at MTV, make her equipped for the beautiful game’s toughest boardroom challenges.
As her new role was revealed – Dinnage, who once claimed that her dream job was a zoologist – said of the challenge: “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.”