Niall Quinn's honest admission on running Sunderland as Stewart Donald weighs up next sale steps

Niall Quinn admits being Chairman of Sunderland was ‘the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life’.

Thursday, 16th April 2020, 5:14 pm

Donald, who has said he does not want to leave, admitted last week that those parties are ‘pausing for breath’ in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Quinn was speaking to The Athletic to reflect on Sunderland’s record-breaking season in 1998/99, when they picked up 105 points on the way to the first division title.

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Former Sunderland Chairman Niall Quinn

He also reflected on the current situation at the Stadium of Light and his time as Chairman of the club between 2006 and 2011.

“The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life is try to run a football club. I know how difficult it is. I’m willing to forgive what others mightn’t,” he said.

“Sunderland is indelible in people’s lives. It’s difficult to get it right, to continuously get the messaging right.

“There’s no point in me saying I’d have done things differently, it’s just so consuming. It can’t have been easy in there in the last year, the job losses, cutbacks, selling Josh Maja. That would have been like us selling Jordan Henderson before he had developed. It’s just difficult.”

Quinn also said he was ‘lucky’ to have the backing of the Drumaville consortium and then Ellis Short, who Quinn believes ‘history will be kinder to’.

Short sold the club to Donald after relegation to League One, wiping the club’s internal and external debts, though the parachute payment for the following campaign went towards those external debts.

“I was lucky I had the Irish guys behind me when we went in and then the American guy did the same,” Quinn said.

“Whatever Sunderland fans say about him, Ellis Short was responsible for keeping the club in the top flight for many years. He gave the club a chance and to wipe out the debt on his way out was a huge act. History will be kinder to him.”

Quinn recently returned to football as interim deputy chief executive officer of the Football Association of Ireland.