The Premier League’s stand-in chief for the last 18 months is close to being handed the job on a permanent basis, amid growing pressure from a number of clubs to end its leadership impasse.
Sky News has learnt that the 20 Premier League clubs will hold a meeting later on Thursday to propose that Richard Masters be appointed as the next boss of the world’s richest domestic football competition.
Mr Masters has worked at the Premier League in commercial roles for 13 years, having worked at the Football League prior to that.
If ratified, it would finally mean the Premier League has landed a replacement for Richard Scudamore, its former executive chairman, after two other candidates for the CEO role withdrew after accepting the job.
Susanna Dinnage, a senior executive at Discovery, the US media group, was appointed to the role in November last year, only to withdraw several weeks later.
More recently, David Pemsel resigned as chief executive of Guardian Media Group to take up the Premier League post.
Mr Pemsel pulled out last week following newspaper revelations about his private life.
Reports in recent days suggested that pressure from clubs was growing on the Premier League to hand Mr Masters the permanent role.
The league’s move to do so will end an embarrassingly convoluted hunt for a successor to Mr Scudamore, whose long tenure yielded unprecedented wealth for clubs such as Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United.
Most of the Premier League’s income is generated from domestic and overseas broadcast rights, while its move away from having a single title sponsor to multiple partnerships with the likes of Barclays, Cadbury, Coca-Cola and Nike has also reaped rich rewards.
During Mr Scudamore’s two decades at the helm, the Premier League saw broadcasting and other commercial revenues soar as some of the world’s best players have flocked to England, attracted by the prospect of wages fuelled by bumper TV rights deals.
However, the search for a new chief has proved unexpectedly tricky, coinciding with an accelerating shake-up of the market for sports broadcast rights.
Amazon recently gatecrashed the existing duopoly of Sky and BT by broadcasting its first-ever round of Premier League matches.
Revenues have risen more than 40-fold since Mr Scudamore took the Premier League’s helm in 1999, when he took over, although his tenure also proved to be divisive on a number of key issues, including the distribution of money among the 20 Premier League clubs as well as its financial contribution to the wider English game.
However, it also witnessed the first reduction in overall UK rights revenues from £5.14bn to £4.55bn, prompting media commentators to suggest that an era of frenzied bidding for Premier League football rights was finally cooling.
The Premier League declined to comment ahead of the clubs’ call.