As reported by The Guardian’s media editor, Jim Waterson on their website: Confirmation of the appointment came at a Premier League meeting on Wednesday morning.
Bruce Buck, the chairman of Chelsea, who was tasked with recruiting an individual to administer the top tier of English football, said Pemsel had been hired because of his “straightforward style and personal integrity”.
“At the Guardian he has shown strong leadership through a period of change and transformation. Returning the group to profit is an impressive achievement and has demonstrated that he can develop and execute a transformational plan in an ever-changing business landscape,” Buck said.
Pemsel, 51, has been chief executive of Guardian Media Group, the owner of the Guardian and the Observer, since July 2015. Working with the editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, he helped to increase the company’s digital revenues while cutting costs.
The company’s main Guardian News & Media subsidiary in 2018-19 recorded its first operating profit in many years, following a run of heavy losses, and now makes the majority of its money from online activities.
Pemsel will stay at the Guardian until taking up the Premier League job in early 2020. His appointment follows a lengthy search for a new Premier League chief executive following the departure of former boss Richard Scudamore at the end of 2018.
He will have to confront a changing media world where the ability of traditional pay-TV providers such as Sky and BT to dominate the multibillion-pound market for sports rights is being challenged by deep-pocketed newcomers such as Amazon.
He will also have to manage the delicate relationship between the top Premier League clubs and their smaller rivals and friction over how they share broadcasting revenue, amid renewed speculation about a potential breakaway competition.
Pemsel said: “I have enjoyed my eight years at Guardian Media Group and want to thank everyone for their support and friendship, but now is the perfect time for me to take on the next challenge.”
Viner said she would miss working with Pemsel. “We were appointed to our roles within a month of each other in 2015 and we’ve worked closely together ever since on the organisation’s strategy and direction. It’s been stressful, demanding – and a lot of fun. Despite the many tough decisions we’ve had to take, David has always understood the integral place of Guardian and Observer journalism in our business,” she said.
Neil Berkett, the Guardian Media Group chairman, told staff he would be starting the process of replacing Pemsel immediately, while paying tribute to the outgoing chief executive.
“In partnership with Kath and all of you, he has restored GMG’s finances to a sustainable position and helped make us a much stronger, better business. He has also been an impressive leader, keeping the Guardian’s journalism and our values central to our decision-making at all times. The board and I have valued David’s advice immensely, and we wish him well,” he said.