Just like her club Leicester City FC, Susan Whelan has had a unique against-the-odds journey to reach her current destination as first female CEO of football team in the English Premiere League, and now the first female CEO to head a title winning EPL team. The Dubliner came to LCFC five years ago with no experience in the beautiful game, having started her career in the world of retail and trade. Her job as a buyer brought her to Bangkok while employed by Aer Rianta International to work on a trade center opening. Fortuitously, King Power took over the project after ARI unexpectedly pulled out, Vichai Raksriaksorn hired Whelan and in 2010, King Power bought LCFC. “There was just something that was absolutely right about Leicester: there was the heritage of the club – it’s 130 years old; there’s an amazing fan base, which was obviously very important as well; a very rich history; a very rich cultural city in Leicester itself; a great sporting city,” Susan explained in 2014 on Saturday Night with Miriam.
First brought onto the scene as King Power’s representative on the Leicester City board, Susan Whelan joined LCFC as CEO a year later to much doubt by club fans, but since her appointment, the business marketing and branding side of the club has taken off, but that hasn’t been her only claim to fame.
During the Nigel Pearson scandal in which his son and two teammates were linked with prostitutes in Thailand during a pre-season tour, Whelan was the one to handle the situation publically announcing to a once-again weary fan base, that Pearson’s replacement would be Raneiri. “I am very confident that in Claudio we have recruited a manager who has the knowledge, the passion and the determination to ensure the continued growth, development and success for this club, and to fulfil the vision of the owners, and everything that is in the hearts and dreams of the fans,” Whelan confidently declared in July 2015. Against all the odds, as we all know by now, the rest is global sports history.
“It’s been incredible from that point of view; investing in the recruitment side, the sports science side, as well as getting very embedded in the city of Leicester, playing our part in the community. And for me, that’s been the really interesting part as well; the positive power of sport and of football in particular,” Susan Whelan, 2014, on Saturday Night with Miriam