NIALL Quinn believes his decision to quit as SAFC chairman can only make the club “stronger”.
As he embarks on his new “international” role, the former player has been talking of the move that sees owner Ellis Short take over the chairman reigns.
He said: “This is a great opportunity for us to make the club stronger and I’m delighted that Ellis has agreed to support the plan.
“He’ll be a fantastic chairman and taking this role on speaks volumes about his ambition for the club.”
The new role means that Quinn (right) is giving up his day-to-day chairman’s duties after almost five-and-a-half years at the helm as he looks to increase Sunderland’s worldwide profile.
Rumours recently circulated that Quinn was being sounded out to become chief executive of Manchester City, one of his former clubs.
With Sunderland starting this season on the pitch poorly, getting just one win from eight games, manager Steve Bruce’s position has also been under scrutiny.
And although Black Cats fans will have initially been worried the man who rescued the club when it was at one of its lowest ebbs would be leaving Sunderland altogether, Quinn will instead take a downwards step within the club’s hierarchy.
New chairman Mr Short moved to calm supporters worried by the changes, saying: “I can assure our fans that it’s the same group of people continuing to lead the club.
“With financial fair play rules coming into effect it is essential for the long-term success of the club that we develop interests on a global scale and there’s no-one better than Niall to sell the ethos of Sunderland to an international audience.
“He has been keen to drive this change for some time and I agree that it’s the way forward for us now.”
“Assuming the position of chairman is a great honour and I will treat the role as guardian of this club with the utmost respect.”
SAFC’s chief executive, Margaret Byrne, said that the move would now allow Quinn to raise Sunderland’s profile across the world: “Niall is widely known and hugely respected throughout the world of football.
“His profile, coupled with his vast knowledge of the game and the business, means he is perfectly placed to bring Sunderland to the forefront internationally.”
“This new challenge begins immediately as he represents the club at the prestigious Leaders in Football conference in London this week, after which he travels to Korea with Steve Bruce and Mike Farnan, International Marketing Director.
“Trips to territories such as Vietnam, India, Abu Dhabi and Africa are also taking place in the coming months.”
The move comes just months after another round of boardroom changes at the club, when chief executive Steve Walton and commercial director Lesley Callaghan left the Stadium of Light in July.
South Shields MP and former Labour Party leadership candidate David Miliband joined the club as non-executive vice chairman at the start of this year.