SUNDERLAND’S latest signing David Miliband will help cement the club’s position at a Premier League high-flier, Niall Quinn has vowed.
Former Foreign Secretary Mr Miliband was officially unveiled as the Black Cats’ new non-executive vice-chairman ahead of last night’s top-flight clash with Chelsea, with Niall promising his new number two would have a hands-on role at the Stadium of Light.
And he is confident the new role will not prevent the South Shields MP from carrying out his constituency duties.
Niall said: “We don’t want to take away from what David is doing – but he is able to do a little more than he is.”
The Irishman has been impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the career politician.
He said: “When I met him to discuss this role, I came away jumping because I thought he is a man who is as passionate as me.
“He has already arranged meetings not just with other board members but with line managers of the departments within the club.”
Owner Ellis Short was pleased with the appointment and the three were looking forward to working together for a long time.
Niall said: “Ellis Short is important because Ellis has great hopes for this club and he is the one who has made the whole thing possible.
“I am committed here for the long term, David understands that.
“He has seen how long I am here for. He has spoken to Ellis and we see this as a journey we can travel together for the next few years.”
Mr Miliband said he was looking forward to working for a club which had set “the national standard” for community involvement.
The work of the SAFC Foundation was a chance to continue a vision which first blossomed well over a decade ago.
Mr Miliband said: “I have had contact with the foundation before and I knew the amazing work they did.
“And I remembered that when I was working with Tony Blair in opposition, we started a push for football clubs to get involved in education.”
The presence of Niall as chairman had been critical in his decision to accept the post.
Mr Miliband said: “I would not say I knew him well before, but what I knew of was a man of integrity, who never overpromised and who was always straight – those are very important factors.”
With owner and chairman keen to establish the Black Cats as a Premier League force to be reckoned with, Mr Mililand is looking forward to a new role on the international stage.
“We hope we can establish Sunderland as a permanent presence in the top 10 of the Premier League,” said Mr Miliband.
“If we are knocking on the door of Europe, that is where international links are important.
“Football is a global game now and every club needs a global brand. We want people around the world to have some idea of what this team in red and white is and what they are about.”
And he is confident fans will forgive him for being a Gooner. He said: “I am an Arsenal supporter, I have never hidden that.
“But the chairman was an Arsenal supporter when he was a kid and was banging the goals in for them before he was banging then in for Sunderland.”