Premier League names first female chair

·4-min read
Alison Brittain Premier League names first female chair - Premier League
Alison Brittain Premier League names first female chair - Premier League

Alison Brittain has been announced as the first female chair of the Premier League, ensuring the two most senior roles in the domestic game are now filled by women.

Brittain's appointment to the part-time job overseeing the top tier comes after she stepped back from full-time executive life in charge of Premier Inn-owner Whitbread.

She is the first woman to step in the paid role on a permanent basis and will now work closely with Debbie Hewitt, who has been FA chair since January.

Coincidentally, both women replaced Peter McCormick, who had filled the respective roles on an interim basis. The Premier League said in a statement on Tuesday that clubs had voted unanimously in favour of her appointment at a shareholders meeting in Holborn.

“I have been a football fan since I was a child and so am absolutely delighted to be appointed chair of the Premier League," Brittain said. “The game is of enormous national importance, is loved by so many people around the world and can have a tremendous positive impact on communities."

Brittain, 57, spent seven years in the role at Whitbread as one of ten women running FTSE 100 companies. Before she joined Whitbread, she had been one of the most powerful women in the City, heading up Lloyds Banking Group's retail division. Her appointment by the Premier League comes after the last permanent incumbent Gary Hoffman, the Monzo chairman, stepped down in November amid controversy over the Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle.

Hoffman spent just 18 months in the job before being the subject of an unofficial vote of confidence by Premier League chairmen.

'First-class record in strategic leadership across different sectors'

Brittain will now take over from McCormick in early 2023 after emerging as the "outstanding candidate", the Premier League said.

"She is one of the country's leading business executives with a first-class record in strategic leadership across different sectors," the Premier League added. "Since 2015, Alison has been the CEO of Whitbread PLC (FTSE 100), one of the UK’s oldest public companies and now a leading hospitality business. Alison has reshaped the business, selling Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola, improving efficiency, re-energising the culture and expanding Premier Inn internationally to provide a strong platform for growth for the future. She will be stepping down from her role at Whitbread in early 2023 and will then focus on serving as the Premier League Chair, as well as her other non-executive roles."

Prior to Whitbread, Brittain had been in executive roles at Barclays, Santander and Lloyds Banking Group PLC, where she led the retail banking division. She is currently the senior independent director at Experian PLC and chair of the Dunelm Group.

She has been a member of the last three Prime Minister’s Advisory Boards and is a former Chair of The Financial Conduct Authority Practitioner Panel. "It will be a real privilege to be able to help to develop plans for the future and work with all the key stakeholders in the game to ensure its long-term sustainability and success," Brittain added. "I am looking forward to working with Chief Executive Richard Masters, the Board and the clubs as we work together to ensure the ongoing growth and global success of the Premier League.”

A spokesperson for the Premier League Board’s Nominations Committee said: “Alison is a first-class business leader with exceptional regulatory and governmental experience as well as outstanding personal qualities of integrity, energy and commitment to her work. We believe that she has all the skills needed to be the Premier League chair."

Masters added: “Alison has had a positive impact on every organisation she has been a part of, so I am delighted she is joining the Premier League as Chair.

“She has a tremendous track record in business, gets things done with a down-to-earth style and is well respected and liked in all the industries she has worked. She also has a keen interest in the game and how it can develop further and I am very much looking forward to working with her.”