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On This Day (3 July 2006): Sunderland’s adopted son steps into a new role

Sunderland’s new chairman was a familiar face – club legend Niall Quinn! 

Niall Quinn sweeps back into the Stadium of Light, as seen in the 2007 Sunderland Annual

Coming off the back of a disastrous season and facing mounting debts, Sunderland needed a hero to lift the gloom.

Step forward then Niall Quinn - the former striker already loved on Wearside for his efforts on the pitch and generosity off it, who was coming in to save the day.

Fans were on board as soon as rumours of him spearheading an exciting new consortium had begun to surface, and on this date 16 years ago matters took a huge step forward.

It was in March that it was first reported that Quinn and his associates were looking to take over from Bob Murray. By June negotiations were said to be at an advanced stage, and once the big man was seen arriving back in the region via Teesside Airport to continue those talks, hopes quickly soared.

With Murray satisfied that he had found suitable custodians for the club he endeavoured to make things run as smoothly as possible; an agreement was reached in principle, and whilst some matters still needed to be ironed out it was today in 2006 that he stepped down and gave the chairmanship to Quinn.

The group, known as Drumaville still had 21 days to contact stakeholders and complete all the share purchases, but with that expected to run smoothly in the background, Murray knew that with so many issues to tackle it made sense to allow Quinn the chance of having a head start.

Before he could get cracking though, the new chairman held a press conference the same day, and once he had outlined the ownership situation talk quickly moved onto footballing matters – namely that of who would be given the manager's job under the new regime.

Quinn in chairman mode, as seen in the 2007 Sunderland Annual

Several names had already been linked, with Quinn himself admitting that Martin O’Neill had been considered but was assumed to be too costly. A quick return for Mick McCarthy, who had only just left the job a few months prior, had also been discussed, but, feeling that this was a fresh beginning, Quinn stated that he and his colleagues were looking for somebody else. Rather presciently, he even mentioned the possibility of it being “an inexperienced person”.

Drumaville themselves were largely new to the game too. Quinn was the public face and football brains of the operation, and he was joined by several successful Irish business contacts of his from over the years - the only investor that was already local to the club was the much loved Wearside travel magnate John Hays.

It would later transpire that their target was Roy Keane, who was indeed inexperienced but was highly inspirational. Quinn had an undoubted presence too, and whilst they had not always been the best of mates beforehand, once they eventually joined together following the start of the season the unlikely partnership started making things happen.

Backed by Drumaville, who largely stayed in the background, 2006-07 saw a rapid transformation in which things initially seemed to be getting worse before turning 180o and ended in a magnificent promotion.

Had Quinn not come along though, who knows how things would have ended up…

Quinn in player mode, as seen in the 2002 Sunderland Annual
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