The English Premier League—the world’s richest soccer league—is getting its first female boss.
Susanna Dinnage, currently the president of Discovery’s Animal Planet, will take over early next year from Richard Scudamore, who has served as head of the Premier League for almost 20 years. Scudamore had announced intentions to step down back in June, kicking off the search for a new chief executive.
All 20 Premier League clubs unanimously voted Dinnage into the post during a meeting earlier today (Nov. 13), according to press reports. It’s a major management breakthrough for a woman in a field heavily dominated—and defined—by male figures.
Dinnage comes into the role with nearly two decades of experience working in television. Before joining Discovery in 2009, she held senior roles at UK’s Channel Five, where she worked on the launch of the channel’s digital extensions. At Discovery, she has served as president of the company’s UK and Ireland networks, managing the company’s brands including Eurosport, TLC, and Discovery Channel. She also has served as chief content officer for Discovery International. Dinnage also gained a reputation as a tough negotiator after taking on Sky, a major UK broadcaster, for not paying a “fair price” to carry Discovery’s channels.
All of that experience likely came to bear in her appointment at the Premier League. Bruce Buck, chairman of Chelsea—he was a member of the five-person panel that recruited Dinnage, and Chelsea is one of the league’s leading clubs—says she is an “outstanding choice given her track record in managing complex businesses through transformation and digital disruption.”
Dinnage will be tasked with overseeing the growth of the Premier League, already the one of the world’s richest sports competitions thanks to its global popularity. That appeal has translated into billion-pound revenue as the value of the league’s television rights have grown more than a hundred-fold since 1992.