LONDON (AFP) - Susanna Dinnage has shocked English football by deciding she no longer wants to be the chief executive of the Premier League despite previously accepting the post.
Dinnage, a television executive, was announced as the successor to the long-serving Richard Scudamore in November, with her appointment hailed as a major step forward for women in sports administration.
It was planned that Dinnage, currently the global president of Discovery's Animal Planet brand, would take over from Scudamore, in charge for 19 years, early in 2019.
Quite why she has rejected the high-profile position remains unclear, with a Premier League statement issued Sunday simply saying: "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."
This was a far cry from Dinnage's comments following the initial announcement of her appointment last month, when she said: "With the support of clubs and the team, I look forward to extending the success of the League for many years to come.
When Scudamore took over as chief executive in 1999, the Premier League's domestic television rights deal was worth around £670 million (S$1160 million).
The latest deal for rights between 2019 and 2022 sold for more than £4.5 billion.
While the vast majority of that money still comes from television giants Sky and BT, it also includes the sale of 20 matches to retail giant Amazon's streaming service for the first time.
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, Burnley chairman Mike Garlick and Leicester chief executive Susan Whelan led the recruitment process, with Buck describing Dinnage as "the outstanding choice" from a "very strong field" of candidates.
Now, however, the Premier League will have to re-open the search for Scudamore's successor.
"The committee has reconvened its search and is talking to candidates," the Premier League statement issued Sunday also said.
"There will be no further comment until an appointment is made."