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Kick It Out looking forward to working with new PL chief

NEW ROLE: Susanna Dinnage

THERE WAS some very surprising news from the Premier League this week which raised a few eyebrows. There was a strong reaction when it emerged that the new chief executive chosen to take over from Richard Scudamore is...... a Fulham fan.

Not only that, Susanna Dinnage has no background in sport but comes from the world of media where she has worked for twenty years, including time at MTV and Channel Five.

As the Times put it this week it might be that Susanna’s time as the global president of Discovery’s Animal Planet channel may be the most useful experience in her new role as she’ll presumably know how to herd (fat) cats.

Ms Dinnage is no novice when it comes to sport, though.

While overseeing Eurosport at Discovery, she was involved in the groundbreaking deal with the All England Club and the BBC to show Wimbledon on Eurosport, as well as the station’s successful bid for the European rights for the Olympics between 2018 and 2024.

Chelsea chairman, Bruce Buck, who led a five-person committee tasked with recommending a preferred candidate to Premier League clubs from an impressive list of applicants, described her as “ideally suited”, “a capable leader”, and “the outstanding choice”.

Let’s be clear, then she got the job becuase she was the best person for the role, not for any other reason. And with a mantra that states: ‘You have to be bold, your ideas have to be bigger and you have to be first’, she is well placed to continue moving the Premier League forward in the same vein as her predecessor, who has established the division as the richest, most high-profile sports league in the world.

When she starts the job in the new year Susanna will become the most senior leader in the world's major professional sports leagues. And because of the commercial wealth, global popularity and cultural influence of the Premier League, arguably the most powerful figure in British sport.

It’s a very exciting time for football to have a woman at the top of the game. For a long, long time, I have stressed the need for more diversity in boardrooms and among decision-makers.

I know first-hand the benefits of this.

From my own experiences, women in positions of power help transform the culture of organisations with fresh ideas and different approaches to leadership.

The albeit steady increase in the number of women sitting in the House of Lords over the years, for instance, has changed the culture in that environment from an ‘old boys club’ to one which is far more progressive and equal, even if there’s still work to do in terms of representation.

I’m sure plenty of people would agree some parts of football could benefit from a similar cultural shift. I’m proud to say that Kick It Out has two women – CEO Roisin Wood OBE and Keeley Baptista – at the heart of its leadership team.

Both, along with other members of senior management at the organisation, have helped establish greater presence than ever before for our campaign within football through innovation and a tireless work ethic. They have also contributed to creating a culture within the organisation that reflects what we are striving for in football – equality, diversity and respect for all.

I’ve heard the phrase “breath of fresh air” a lot this week but the appointment of Susanna Dinnage is so much more than that. It means a few less grey blazers,a slight erosion of the power of the “Old Boys Network” - it might even mean a Premier League which uses some of its considerable wealth to help the grassroots of the game who have endured an era of austerity which has threatened its existence.

This decision represents the possibility of change and progress.

We at Kick It Out really looking forward to working with Ms Dinnage because the PL has a huge job on its hands to deliver equality, inclusion and cohesion to the game we love.

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