SUNDERLAND owner Ellis Short and manager Steve Bruce will have a much closer working relationship after it was announced that Niall Quinn is to stand down as chairman.
Quinn, who put together the Drumaville consortium which bought the club in 2006 and appointed Roy Keane as manager, is to take up a new international development role at the Stadium of Light.
He initially indicated he would serve as chairman for around five years and will be succeeded by Short himself as the Texan businessman takes a more hands-on role.
Short said: "I can assure our fans that it's the same group of people continuing to lead the club. "With financial fair play rules coming into effect, it is essential for the long-term success of the club that we develop interests on a global scale, and there's no one better than Niall to sell the ethos of Sunderland to an international audience.
"He has been keen to drive this change for some time and I agree that it's the way forward for us now.
"Assuming the position of chairman is a great honour and I will treat the role with the utmost respect."
Short takes over in the boardroom with the club having invested heavily once again during the summer, but still waiting to reap a dividend after a poor start to the season.
Saturday's 2-2 home draw with West Brom -- the Black Cats trailed 2-0 after just five minutes -- left them in 16th place in the table and did little to ease the pressure which has been gathering around Bruce in recent weeks.
Quinn and Short have remained steadfastly behind their manager, although there is little doubt that a significant upturn in fortunes is required if that is to remain the case.
The former Republic of Ireland striker said: "This is a great opportunity for us to make the club stronger and I'm delighted that Ellis has agreed to support the plan. He will be a fantastic chairman."
In the meantime, Quinn will attempt to broaden the club's appeal to a global market, a role chief executive Margaret Byrne is confident Quinn can fulfil.
She said: "Niall is hugely respected throughout the world of football. His profile, coupled with his vast knowledge of the game and the business, means he is perfectly placed to bring Sunderland to the forefront internationally.
"This new challenge begins immediately as he represents the club at the prestigious Leaders in Football conference in London this week, after which he travels to Korea with Steve Bruce and Mike Farnan, international marketing director. Trips to territories such as Vietnam, India, Abu Dhabi and Africa are also taking place."