Animal Planet Global president Susanna Dinnage has been appointed CEO of English soccer’s Premier League. Dinnage, who has been at Discovery since 2009, will start at the sports organization in early 2019.

She becomes the first woman to hold the role and replaces executive chairman Richard Scudamore, who will relinquish his duties at the end of 2018. A popular figure within Discovery, Dinnage was previously more likely to have been seen at the French Open tennis tournament alongside stars such as John McEnroe with Discovery-owned Eurosport.

The Premier League soccer clubs have split Scudamore’s role and will now search for a non-executive chair. Headhunters Spencer Stuart helped with the appointment, which was given the greenlight by Bruce Buck, chairman of Chelsea and the Premier League’s Nominations Committee; Leicester City’s Susan Whelan; Burnley’s Mike Garlick; and Claudia Arney and Kevin Beeston, both non-executive directors of the Premier League.

Buck said, “We are very pleased to appoint such a capable leader to this important role. We had a very strong field, but Susanna was the outstanding choice given her track record in managing complex businesses through transformation and digital disruption. She is a leading figure in the broadcasting industry, a proven business executive and a great developer of people. She is ideally suited to the role and we are confident she will be able to take the Premier League on to new heights. Richard Scudamore, having provided exceptional stewardship for almost 20 years, will leave us at the end of the year in great shape and with an excellent Executive Team and Board able to fully support Susanna.”

Dinnage said, “I am excited at the prospect of taking on this fantastic role. The Premier League means so much to so many people. It represents the pinnacle of professional sport and the opportunity to lead such a dynamic and inspirational organisation is a great privilege. With the support of clubs and the team, I look forward to extending the success of the League for many years to come.”

JB Perrette, President and CEO Discovery Networks International, added: “Susanna has been a terrific leader for Discovery over the last 10 years. She has a strong understanding of brands and running diverse media businesses both in the UK and more recently with Animal Planet globally. She has been a fantastic team-mate for all of us at Discovery and we are delighted that she has been given this unique and ground-breaking opportunity to lead one of the world’s pre-eminent sports organisations.”