Karren Brady, the "first woman of football" and managing director of Premier League side Birmingham City, is to undergo surgery after being diagnosed with an aneurysm in her brain.
Miss Brady, 36, who has a reputation as a formidable businesswoman after she turned round the financial fortunes of the West Midlands team, is expected to be off work for a month.
In a statement released by the club, Ms Brady revealed that the condition, which was diagnosed on Wednesday, has been caught early. She is expected to undergo an operation for the aneurysm, a swelling of an artery, early next week.
Ms Brady told the club's website: "This has come as a big shock to me and my family but I am in very capable hands. I would like to thank everybody for their messages of support."
A club spokesman said: "All of our supporters, staff, team, management and fellow directors wish her well and hope that she makes a full and speedy recovery."
Ms Brady was recruited by the club in 1993, at 23, becoming the first woman to run a top-flight professional club. She was initially dismissed by her detractors as having little idea about the game and refused entry to the boardroom of Notts County.
But she converted a debt-ridden Birmingham City to one with a £30m turnover and was responsible for its flotation in 1997, becoming the youngest managing director of a UK plc in the process. She is also a non-executive director of Channel 4 television, and has a seat on the board of Sport England.
Ms Brady is married to Derby County footballer Paul Peschisolido and has two children, nine-year-old Sophie and Paolo, seven.
Her club's commercial director Perry Deakin and financial director, Roger Bannister, will assume her duties during her absence.Reuse content