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On This Day (25 July 2006): Quinn makes a surprising first managerial appointment as chairman!

Only weeks after being installed as the clubs new chairman, Niall Quinn appoints himself as the new manager two weeks ahead of the season opener.

Photo by Tom Buist - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Things were beginning to look up in the summer of 2006, although they couldn’t get much worse to be fair.

Sunderland had just come off the back of a season where we had accumulated only 15 points over the course of 38 Premier League fixtures and only three of which resulted in victory.

We had been starved of anything that resembled enjoyment emanating from the club we love, with only one win at the Stadium of Light that came in the penultimate game of the season against Chris Coleman’s Fulham.

It became clear from the level of recruitment that Mick McCarthy was able to complete in the build-up to the season getting underway that it was going to be a long old season. It was also a sign that Bob Murray knew his time was up as chairman of his boyhood club.

Soccer - FA Barclays Premiership - Sunderland v Blackburn Rovers - The Stadium of Light
Sunderland fans stage a protest against Chairman Bob Murray after their defeat to Blackburn Rovers in 2006.
Photo by Owen Humphreys - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

The jump between the Championship and the Premier League was widening and it required a new level of funding to bridge the gap and following relegation the search was underway to find new owners who were willing to take the debt-ridden club off the hands of long-term owner Murray.

Rumours circulated once the season was complete and the dust had settled on a truly disastrous year, but one rumour stuck out above all others, which was the prospect of former striker Niall Quinn stepping into the breach.

The story was that Quinn was gathering Irish businessmen together to form a consortium to take the club on from Murray and for once, these fantastical rumours proved to be true and like a knight in shining armour, Quinn injected some hope back into Wearside as it was announced he was now the club's new chairman.

Once installed in his new position, Quinn got down to business and turned his attention to the football side of the club where his priority was installing a new manager of the club after Kevin Ball had kept the seat warm as we limped out of the Premier League.

Soccer - Stadium of Light - Sunderland press conference
Niall Quinn meets fans after announcing the takeover of the club in 2006
Photo by Tom Buist - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Big names were linked, and approached, with future managers Martin O’Neill and Sam Allardyce both being approached by the new consortium and Quinn to take the task on to return us to the top flight at the first time of asking - but both turned the job down.

Meanwhile. players were queueing up at the new owners door to inform him they wished to leave the club, and after the season we had all just endured it wasn’t that much of a surprise.

Coach Kevin Richardson was taking charge of team affairs throughout the summer, but with only two weeks remaining until the start of the season it was clear that Quinn and the new consortium would need to do something to calm the fears of not only the fans, but also the players.

So it was announced on this day back in 2006, that it had been ratified by the new consortium, that 39-year-old Niall Quinn, head of the ownership group and club chairman, would also fulfill the role as first team manager.

The move sparked initial rumours that former manager Peter Reid would return as assistant manager, but these were quickly dismissed as Reid’s former right-hand man, Bobby Saxton, took up the same role again to help Quinn in his first managerial post as Quinn himself explained his appointment:

In order to give the team a bit of focus - we are two weeks away from the start of the season - we need to group together and we hope to announce something positive. We will have a great chance of going forward and I hope the fans will realise the path we are taking and start concentrating on football again.

Things develop for a reason and we hope we are going with the best thing possible for Sunder Football Club.

Only a few people had attempted the dual role of club owner and manager, a list that included the likes of Barry Fry at Peterborough, Ron Noades at Brentford and early calls were made warning Quinn not to make similar mistakes to those of Terry Venables at Tottenham Hotspur almost two decades prior.

There was also surprise in the world of football, many of which couldn’t understand the depth of feeling that Quinn held for the club, with many questioning why he had taken on the task as described in the Irish Independent:

Why would the wealthy, charming young footballer, a TV regular and a columnist in a broadsheet newspaper, suddenly find himself in the most dangerous place in the darkness that last season descended on the Stadium of Light?

Some people will just never understand.


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