Sunderland paid former CEO £850,000 after resigning over Adam Johnson case

Former Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne received an £850,000 pay-off after resigning in the wake of Adam Johnson's conviction on child sex offences.

Sunderland paid former CEO £850,000 after resigning over Adam Johnson case

Former Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne received an £850,000 pay-off after resigning in the wake of Adam Johnson's conviction on child sex offences.

The club's latest full accounts reveal that Byrne was paid £1,207,770 during the year to July 31, 2016, £850,000 of it in "compensation for loss of office".

She resigned on March 8 last year after admitting to "a serious error of judgement" in allowing Johnson, who had initially been suspended by the club after being arrested on allegations of having sex with a 15-year-old girl, to return and play a part in the Black Cats' successful fight against relegation at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Johnson, who had signalled his intention to deny all charges, was allowed to carry on playing until his trial last year at Bradford Crown Court, where he stunned the club by admitting two charges of grooming the girl and kissing her.

He went on to be convicted of one further charge of sexual activity with a child.

In a statement released after her resignation was announced, Byrne said: "Contrary to what has been suggested, I did not understand that Mr Johnson intended to change his plea at trial or at all. I was astounded when he did plead guilty.

"I accept that Mr Johnson should not have been permitted to play again, irrespective of what he was going to plead.

"It was a serious error of judgement and I accept full responsibility for this."

Johnson, who was sacked by Sunderland after entering his guilty pleas, is currently serving a six-year jail sentence.

Details of Byrne's compensation payment were not included in headline financial figures released by the club last week.

They showed a loss of £33m before tax and a net debt of £110.4m, and that situation is unlikely to improve in the wake of the Black Cats' relegation from the Premier League, which was confirmed by last Saturday's 1-0 home defeat by Bournemouth.

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