Tyne & Wear

Former Sunderland chief exec given £850,000

Margaret Byrne Image copyright PA
Image caption Margaret Byrne was appointed Sunderland chief executive in 2011

Former Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne received an £850,000 payoff after resigning in the wake of the Adam Johnson child abuse case.

Ms Byrne was heavily criticised for allowing the winger to keep playing despite being aware of an allegation he had kissed an underage girl.

The figure was revealed in club accounts which also show she was paid £1.2m that year.

Johnson was sacked by the club after he pleaded guilty in 2016.

At the time, Ms Byrne, who was appointed chief executive in 2011, said the decision to let the England winger play after his arrest in 2015 "was a serious mistake" despite her belief he would plead not guilty.

The club added: "We are so very sorry for this."

Johnson was allowed to carry on playing until his trial at Bradford Crown Court, where he admitted two of the four charges against him.

Ms Byrne later resigned on 8 March 2016 after the trial had ended.

Johnson went on to be convicted of one further charge of sexual activity with a child and was jailed for six years.

Image copyright Durham Police
Image caption Adam Johnson was told he had been given "every opportunity" to enter guilty pleas to the charges he finally admitted

The club went on to survive a relegation battle at the end of the 2015-16 season.

The financial figures released by the club last week showed a loss of £33m before tax and a net debt of £110.4m.

Sunderland's 10-year stay in the Premier League ended in April when a loss against Bournemouth confirmed their relegation to the Championship.

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