Sunderland now without seven key staff after Parkinson sacking
Written by Simon Austin — December 1, 2020
THE sacking of Phil Parkinson on Sunday has left Sunderland without a manager, assistant manager, Academy Manager, chairman, Under-18s coach, Head of Recruitment and Head of Football Operations.
Furthermore, kit man John Cooke has been made redundant after more than 25 years "without even a mention that I have left" and could now take the club to an employment tribunal.
Manager Parkinson was sacked after 13 months of a two-and-a-half year contract, with the club sitting eighth in League One. His assistant, Steve Parkin, was also dismissed.
The Black Cats, who operate a Category One Academy, are now without a raft of key staff. Owner Stewart Donald, who put the club up for sale in January, stepped down as chairman in July.
He said: "Results and performances on the pitch have simply not been at a level befitting of Sunderland’s history and potential. I fully recognise that has caused immense hurt and, ultimately, the buck for the club starting a third successive season in League One stops with me."
Academy Manager Paul Reid had left a month earlier, after two years in post. Against the odds, he had helped the Black Cats to retain Category One status, but they had lost all but one of their fixtures at U18 and U23 levels combined in 2019/20.
There had been a short period without an Academy Manager before Reid joined the club, which he reflected on in an interview with TGG.
“That meant decisions weren’t being made and that things weren't moving forward," he said. “The club had dropped down to the Championship and then League One and attention had been focused on the first team. The Academy hadn’t been seen as a priority.”
Now, with the club having failed to replace him more than four months on, the Academy is again rudderless. A date for an audit has not yet been set because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the club are hoping it will take place next season, because they would be unlikely to pass if it happened early in 2021.
In July, Head of Recruitment Tony Coton and Head of Football Operations Richard Hill both left the club and have not been replaced. As TGG revealed today, Coton has now got a job as Chief Goalkeeping Scout at his former club, Manchester United.
U18s coach Paul Bryson left Sunderland in September, having worked for the club for the previous 18 years in both part-time and full-time roles. He joined the i2i International Soccer Academy, citing a desire for more job security.
And today The Chronicle have revealed that kit man Cooke, who spent six years with the club as a player and more than 25 years on the staff, had been made redundant.
"It's very disappointing to be made redundant from the club where I've spent more than 30 years as a player and staff member, without even a mention that I have left,” he said.
"The way it has been handled leaves an especially sour taste, and I'm looking at what legal options are available to me."
Assistant kit manager Steve Aziz has filling in for Cooke since the start of the season.