Sunderland set to lose key member of coaching staff to local rivals Newcastle United
Sunderland’s head of academy coaching Mark Atkinson is set to depart the club – and join local rivals Newcastle United.
The Echo understands that Atkinson, who was only appointed to the role last summer, is set to depart the club.
And his destination is set to be Newcastle United – who are undergoing their own academy restructure this summer, opening the door for Atkinson to make the move across the North East.
Atkinson is understood to be taking on the role of assistant head of academy coaching at St James's Park, working underneath the newly-promoted Ben Dawson. He will focus on the younger age groups at the Premier League side as the Magpies’ academy reshuffle continues.
A well-respected member of staff at the Academy of Light, Atkinson has been a mainstay in the club's youth set-up having worked with a range of age groups.
He began working alongside the club’s foundation stage before progressing to work with the under-16 side.
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Elliott Dickman’s promotion to the under-23 side then opened the door for Atkinson to manage the Black Cats’ under-18 side last season, before new academy manager Paul Reid handed the coach the head of academy coaching role last summer.
It was a role that Reid felt Atkinson deserved having ‘flourished’ in the club's youth set-up.
“I felt the staff here deserve the chance for progression because I want to make this team my team,” he said, speaking to the club website at the time of Atkinson’s appointment.
“I made Mark Atkinson head of coaching, he is absolutely excellent and has flourished in the role so far.
“He is someone I am not sure where he would like to be one day, but he has got the potential to be absolutely anything.”