David Pemsel has quit his role as Premier League chief executive – months before starting the job.
The 51-year-old would have started the sought after role in January and was due to succeed long-term boss Richard Scudamore.
Pemsel was the third person to be offered the job and Premier League bosses now face a fresh search.
His resignation follows allegations concerning text messages sent to a former colleague after his appointment.
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Premier League executives are thought to of spent much of Thursday in talks over how to deal with the set back.
Pemsel was the third person offered the job in a recruitment process that has lasted almost 18 months.
Sales and marketing executive Richard Masters had been filling in as interim chief executive throughout the process.
Headhunters Russell Reynolds Associates identified Pemsel as an outstanding candidate for the job in October.
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Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said Pemsel had been chosen because of his “straightforward style and personal integrity.”
Reports suggest the Premier League is likely to be guided by the strength of feeling among the clubs to replace Pemsel.
The recruitment difficulties come at a time when the League are seeking to take over responsibility for the Women‘s Super League.
If talks with the FA go through, the Premier League will not take over until the beginning of the next television contract in 2022.