June 8 – On the day the Premier League announced a ground-breaking deal to hand one of its remaining TV rights packages to online streaming service Amazon, breaking Sky and BT’s grip on the broadcasting of live games, the man behind the league’s growth into the world’s richest domestic competition announced he is stepping down.
Out of the blue Richard Scudamore said he will leave by the end of this year after nearly 20 years as chief executive and then chairman.
Scudamore made the announcement immediately after securing deals with Amazon and BT Sport for the remaining two Premier League TV packages for 2019-22 and an agreement between the 20 chairmen to give the top clubs a bigger share of overseas TV money.
“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,” he said.
To put Scudamore’s influence in to perspective, the premier league’s UK television rights were valued at about £670 million when he joined, and the last deal was worth £5.14 billion.
While Scudamore’s success in building the Premier League’s brand cannot be over-estimated, critics say the league has gained too much power and opened an irreversable gap between the haves and have-nots.
But there is no doubting his remarkable business acumen and ability to keep his members thriving.
“The past 20 years would not have been possible without the continuing support and encouragement of the clubs and the unstinting efforts of my colleagues at the Premier League,” Scudamore added. “We could not have achieved so much without the enormous commitment of broadcast and commercial partners across the world. That number will run into hundreds. They have all contributed to our story and I would like to thank them enormously.”
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