Sunderland AFC accounts reveal £850,000 settlement for former chief executive Margaret Byrne

Margaret Byrne
Margaret Byrne

Former Sunderland AFC chief executive Margaret Byrne walked away with a £850,000 settlement after quitting over the handling of the Adam Johnson case, according to the club’s latest financial report.

The former lawyer resigned from the Black Cats’ board in March 2016 after the midfielder’s conviction for child sex offences.

She had been central to the decision to allow Johnson to continue to play for Sunderland while on bail.

The club released its financial results to the end of July 2016 at the end of last week and the full document has now been posted on the Companies House website.

Under a section headed ‘Directors’ Emoluments,’ it reveals that the highest-paid director received £1,207,770 during the year, including £51,868 in pension contributions, ‘of which £850,000 related to compensation for loss of office.’

According to documents posted on the website, Margaret Byrne is the only director to have parted company with the club during the period covered by the accounts.

The 31-year-old Margaret Byrne became one of the youngest chief executives in the Premier League when she stepped up from her role as legal director and company secretary in a boardroom revamp at the Stadium of Light in July 2011. Byrne – a qualified solicitor – had already been instrumental in buying and selling players, as well as contract negotiations.

She replaced Steve Walton, who stepped down after three years in the chief executive’s post, in a reshuffle that also saw marketing and commercial director Lesley Callaghan depart. Both had agreed to stay for two years after Ellis Short’s 2009 takeover, to continue the development of the business and consolidation in the Premier League.