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Sunderland announce boardroom restructuring

Thu 7th Jul 2011 | Football Club Management

Sunderland AFC have announced the appointment of legal director Margaret Byrne as the club's CEO following the restructuring of its executive board.

Byrne replaces Steve Walton who stepped as chief executive yesterday after 3 years in the role.

Marketing and commercial director Lesley Callaghan also announced she was stepping down from her position at the club. Speaking of the changes, chairman Niall Quinn said: "I am deeply indebted to Steve and Lesley for the huge support they have given me during my time at the club. Their professionalism and commitment has helped us to take great strides both on and off the pitch.

"The club is in a far stronger position these days and that is in no small part due to the contribution of both Steve and Lesley. We will be very sorry to see them go."

Steve Walton said: "It has been an honour and a privilege to be the chief executive of the club I have supported all my life. I am particularly proud of the progress we have made over the last 3 years, not just in football terms but the business and its people as a whole.

"I am leaving behind a team of outstanding individuals who I have seen grow in stature and I am confident the foundations are firmly in place for a bright future for all associated with the club."

Lesley Callaghan said "Sunderland is unrecognisable from the football club I joined in 1992 and it has been an amazing journey, which I wouldn't have missed for the world. I am happy to be able to leave the club in such a position in both commercial and football terms. 

"I would like to express my deep gratitude to the exceptional professionals that I have had the great pleasure to work with, both past and present, and to wish them and the club even greater success in the future."

Byrne, 31 was appointed as the clubs legal director and club secretary in January 2007 is a rising star in both legal circles and the football industry and short-listed for the UK's prestigious Solicitor of the Year award in October.

Currently sitting on the Premier League's expert Legal Advisory Group, she has headed both the club's specialist legal team and the complexities of football administration alongside her prominent role in player transfers in recent seasons and will take up her new position with immediate effect.

Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn said: "Margaret has been a true driving force at the club since her appointment here more than four years ago and the fact that the club has gone from strength to strength on and off the pitch in that period is no coincidence.

"She has enormous passion for our football club and as its CEO, she will continue with the fantastic work that has gone before and will play a key role as the club continues to grow."

As part of its restructuring, Angela Lowes has joined the Sunderland AFC board as finance director after 11 years in the club's busy finance department.

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