Niall Quinn: Why I’m happy to change role

Niall Quinn
Niall Quinn
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NIALL Quinn says it was time to move on because he was becoming stale in the role as Sunderland chairman and because the need to sell the club abroad and attract inward investment was becoming more of a priority.

“My role was starting to get tired, I was saying the same things to fans,” he said, after switching his job from club chairman to international marketing.

“I felt I was going a little bit stale, becoming repetitive.

“I defy anyone to say it’d be better for me to go to dinners for the next 18 months, make speeches and get applause. I did that and it had its use, but, if you keep doing it, you’re going nowhere.

“The achievement I shared in, and some fans don’t understand this, was to bring the club into the Premier League, keep it there and be ready for Financial Fair Play, for the club to be able to stand on its own two feet.

‘The business world will have scoffed at the idea that this fella who left school with no qualifications, headed a ball for 20 years and talked a bit on TV could run a business.

“But the business is nearly fixed. At this moment, it is fixed.

“The change was 100 per cent my idea.

“Ellis Short took a while to be convinced – he was anxious that because of my rapport with the fans, this could cause a wedge – but I knew the club needed a brighter star and only one person fits that bill.

“Ellis understands this. I wouldn’t entertain anybody else.”

The changes, though, will see Quinn involved less with the club on a day-to-day basis.

It is a move he welcomes after devoting five years of his life almost exclusively to Sunderland’s cause, though he insists he will still be very much involved with the club.

“I am still a director of the club,” he pointed out.

“Funnily enough, I intended to ease my workload a couple of years ago and became a non-executive director but I was just behind a different desk doing as much as before.

“I’m not full-time anymore but I don’t expect it to be a cushy number – I’m not joining a Government quango and I am relishing travelling.

“This is not the end for me at Sunderland.

“My job is to secure the next five years by growing our brand.

“We can’t take on Man United as a ‘winning’ brand, or Liverpool’s history; Chelsea have a money machine behind them.

“What we are strong at is that we connect with our people, we give a service to the community.

“I’m not putting down other clubs’ community projects, but we’re streets ahead, we have over 100 people employed in our Foundation. When we go to a potential sponsor, we want to offer a different image and offer something tangible to those territories.

“It’s hard to know how long I’ll do it.

“I’m not turning my back on the region, I’m trying to find new revenue streams at a time when Financial Fair Play rules are coming in.

“Our shirt sponsors, Tombola, are great, but that ends this season. It’s their decision if they stay or not, but I can’t just sit around and wait.

“And there’s a bit of personal stuff there. After five years in that goldfish bowl with the blender on, I’ll see my family a bit more.”