London (AFP) – Richard Scudamore, a driving force behind the growth of the Premier League, is planning to step down as executive chairman after almost 20 years, he announced on Thursday.
The 58-year-old Englishman was chief executive from 1999-2014 when he was appointed to his present role which he said he plans to quit by the end of the year.
When he arrived UK TV rights for England’s top division were valued at about £670m ($900million). The latest deal has reached £5.14 billion.
His announcement came hours after he had revealed the final two packages of the next broadcasting deal beginning in the 2019/20 season and which sees Amazon enter the market for the first time.
Scudamore, who was chief executive of the Football League for two years before joining the Premier League, said the job had been so enjoyable it didn’t feel like it had been work.
“It’s an absolute privilege to have been allowed to enjoy this role for so long, it is too much fun to be called a job,” said Scudamore, who is believed to earn a reported £900,000 a year.
“Football is an intoxicating environment and therefore difficult to give up being so involved, but my passion for what football means to so many and the positive impact it can make will never diminish.”
Scudamore said he will leave the competition in rude health.
“The Premier League is in great shape and the future is bright, of course there are still many things to improve and constant challenges, but that is what makes it so exhilarating,” said Scudamore in a statement on the Premier League web site.
“Because it so compelling, the League’s success will continue under new and re-invigorated leadership,” added Scudamore, who is looking forward to spending more time with his wife and five children and watching his beloved Bristol City, who play in the Football League.
Bruce Buck, chairman of Chelsea and also of the Premier League Audit and Remuneration Committee, paid a handsome tribute to Scuadmore.
“I speak for all the clubs when I say we are very sorry that Richard will be leaving, but we could not have asked for anything more from him,” said Buck.
“For 20 years he has led the Premier League with distinction.
“Whilst probably best known for the outstanding growth he has delivered, most importantly he commands the respect of everyone in football for the dignified and positive way he has managed the complexities of keeping the league together and moving us forward.”
Buck added that a replacement for Scudamore should be announced so there is no disruption to the smooth running of the organisation.
“The Premier League Board and the Audit Committee have been working on how we will replace Richard,” said Buck.
“We expect to make an appropriate appointment in good time so there can be a seamless transition.”