Former Sunderland goalkeeper in the running to be club’s new chief executive

Chris Turner
Chris Turner
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Ex-Sunderland goalkeeper Chris Turner is in contention to be the club’s new chief executive.

Sunderland are taking their time over appointing a successor to Margaret Byrne, who resigned last week following the outcry into her decision to allow Adam Johnson to continue playing for the Black Cats, while awaiting trial for sex offences.

Sunderland are in desperate need of to reconnect with supporters.

Chairman Ellis Short is understood to be seeking advice from people both inside and outside the club over a possible successor to Byrne, with Sunderland facing a key appointment over the day-to-day running of the Black Cats.

But the Echo understands that Turner - who made more than 200 appearances during six years at Sunderland - is one of the candidates interested in taking charge.

Turner has been chief executive at Chesterfield for the last five years, during which time the club earned promotion to League One and reached the play-offs last season.

He also boasts the ‘footballing’ expertise that Sunderland’s hierarchy have lacked since the departure of Niall Quinn five years ago after managerial tenures at Sheffield Wednesday, Stockport and Hartlepool, plus a spell as director of football at the latter.

Sam Allardyce knows Turner too, having played together during the Sunderland manager’s one season at Roker Park.

Turner has been a frequent corporate guest on match-days at the Stadium of Light over recent seasons and would be able to fulfil a figurehead role, which Sunderland are in desperate need of to reconnect with supporters.

Since Quinn’s exit, none of Sunderland’s hierarchy have regularly spoken with supporters either through the media or at public functions, with Byrne not even penning a column in the matchday programme over recent weeks.

Sunderland are thought to be aware of that, plus the need to appoint a successor with more of a footballing and business background. The latter has remained as much of an issue as the club’s shortcomings on the pitch after hefty annual losses and a continued reliance on Short’s financial support.

However, ex-chairman Quinn is not thought to be in the running to be the new chief executive, despite weekend reports that he was in the frame.

Quinn has repaired his relationship with Short since leaving Sunderland in 2012, yet has subsequently forged a successful career as a television pundit for Sky Sports.