NIALL Quinn has described former foreign secretary David Miliband as “potentially my best signing”, after the South Shields Labour MP’s opening of doors in the corridors of power.
Miliband (pictured) was appointed to the board earlier this year with the brief to promote its international and community efforts and Quinn has been stunned by the politician’s ability to expose Sunderland to potential interest from abroad.
He said: “When I come to step down as chairman one day I might well come to look back on David Miliband as the best signing I ever made at the club.
“I’ve had three meetings in London over the last few weeks with people I would never have got a chance of meeting previously and that’s directly because of him.
“One was with a business conglomerate representing the interests of huge Asian companies and these are the sort of interests that are now starting to look at Sunderland
“The future is potentially very, very bright if these companies suddenly start to really look at us and want to invest.”
Quinn revealed that the MP originally wanted to do the job for free, instead of receiving payment, rumoured to be in the region of £50,000 a year.
“That was Ellis Short’s idea,” revealed Quinn. “David wanted to do it for nothing, but Ellis felt we could lean on him more if we were paying him and I’ve got to say he was probably right.
“He’s barely got his feet under the table, though, and already he has been great for us.
“He’s not going to pick the team or suggest who we should be buying, but he’s steering the Foundation into areas where it can build us as a club.
“And he’s helping us to improve the profile of the brand, if you like.
“We had an international brand manager a while back, in the shape of Chris Woerts, who was here for 18 months, who didn’t get us any meaningful contract abroad.
“Maybe it was too soon in our journey then for us to appoint him. Perhaps our profile wasn’t big enough for Chris to be able to develop that interest.
“But David has already got in three meaningful contacts for us before he’s barely begun.”