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Sunderland owner Donald: Richard Hill is NOT coming in as Director of Football, but an advisor

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Former Eastleigh Director of Football Richard Hill is set to join Sunderland - but will not be assuming the same role on Wearside.

Grimsby Town v Eastleigh FC - Vanarama Football Conference League Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Much travelled coach Richard Hill, who has been in and out of Eastleigh for the last few years, has departed the South Coast club once again and is expected to be re-united with Stewart Donald in a behind the scenes role at Sunderland.

Hill, who managed Eastleigh between 2012 and 2015, returned to the club as Director of Football in April 2017 but was reinstalled as manager during the summer, with Andy Hessenthaler as his assistant but reverted back to the DoF role back in December after a poor run of results, with Hessenthaler replacing him as manager. Hill though, believed he should have been relieved of his duties sooner, revealed Hessenthaler was always going to take over manager and gave credit to Donald, calling him the ‘best chairman in football’;

Yes, we had expected it to go better on the field than it has, but that had no bearing really on this decision being made. We felt that after Toddy [Chris Todd], Ronnie Moore, Martin Allen and myself, we didn’t need a fifth manager to come in so we decided to bring someone in to assist initially while getting to know the club, its infrastructure and its identity.

I’ve known Andy a long time and worked with him at Gillingham in the Championship. I’ve got the utmost respect for him, in football and as a man, and that respect is two-way.

We felt the time was right to make the change and get him into managing the players. Obviously I would have liked it to happen with the club in better shape on the field, but I know the club is in good hands with Andy in charge.

You’ve always got to plan ahead and you can do that with a Director in Football in place. As a manager, how long are you planning for? I can look ahead and plan ahead more than I could as a manager. We have the best chairman in football. Any other chairman would have relieved me of my duties a month ago.

It had been claimed that Hill was joining as Director of Football but Donald took to Twitter to deny those claims and said that newly-appointed manager Jack Ross will be fully in charge of first team affairs.