Margaret Byrne right to resign says boss of women's charity

Adam Johnson outside of Bradford Crown Court

Adam Johnson outside of Bradford Crown Court

Wearside Women In Need director Clare Phillipson said Margaret Byrne has made the right decision in stepping down from her role as Sunderland AFC chief executive in the wake of Adam Johnson's child sex offences.

Ms Byrne admitted a "serious error of judgement" in allowing winger Adam Johnson to play for the Black Cats after she was sent records showing the ex-England international had admitted to police that he had communicated with and kissed a schoolgirl.

When asked if Ms Byrne had made the right decision to resign, Ms Phillipson told the Echo: "Yes."

"First of all, I think it's sad that another woman has been seriously harmed by Adam Johnson's actions, which is what this boils down to," she added. "All of this can be laid at his door.

"But real harm was done to the victim by allowing Adam Johnson to play.

"I think that every chief executive now needs to get some urgent training on child protection and safeguarding issues so that when they are making decisions, they are making them while fully understanding the harm that is done to children and how they can mitigate that harm.

Ms Phillipson added that she hopes clubs across English football learn lessons from the Johnson case.

"For me, this is still all about the victim and how her football cub made life a lot more difficult for her," said Ms Phillipson.

"It's not just Sunderland, it is football nationwide.

"This case has shown how relatively easy it can be for a predator, through his celebrity status, to contact a child."

George Forster, of the Sunderland AFC Supporters' Association, said of Ms Byrne: "I always found her to be a very nice lady.

"She never ignored the liaison group meetings or the fans.

"What has happened is a difficult subject to comment on and I'm just sad that she has gone."