England’s Premier League has picked the chief executive officer of the liberal-leaning Guardian newspaper to lead the world’s richest soccer organization.
Shareholders voted unanimously to appoint David Pemsel as CEO of the 20-club league, which has been without a permanent head since dealmaking veteran Richard Scudamore left last year after almost two decades in charge.
It first picked Discovery Inc. executive Susanna Dinnage to replace Scudamore, but she later pulled out of the running.
Pemsel arrives at a challenging time for the league, home to world-famous clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool.
Income grew dramatically under Scudamore as its star-studded games drew tens of millions of new fans overseas, but fell 5% in the last auction for domestic broadcast rights when some streaming platforms chose not to bid.
Overall revenue still exceeds what other European competitions pull in.
“We are looking forward to working with David and I am sure he will be a great asset for the Premier League,” Bruce Buck, chairman of Chelsea Football Club and of the Premier League Nominations Committee, said in an emailed statement.
The Guardian is a very different organization, governed largely by a trust to defend its core journalism.
Pemsel broke with other news funding models in 2016 by asking readers for donations. The move drew criticism from industry rivals but paid off last year when the company made its first operating profit in more than a decade.
Pemsel also brings expertise in TV advertising from a former marketing role at broadcaster ITV Plc., said Julian Aquilina of industry consultants Enders Analysis.
“He understands the value of content, and it’s impressive that the Guardian has in three years attracted over 1 million readers to financially support it,” he said. “His background proves he understands the media markets.”
The Premier League plans to split the leadership between the new CEO and a new chairman to be appointed later.