Sunderland CEO: We got rid of Di Canio before to avoid being cut adrift
Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne has revealed Paolo Di Canio was sacked to avoid the club being cut adrift at the bottom of the Barclays Premier League.
The 45-year-old Italian was removed from his post on Sunday night amid reports of dressing room bust-ups with his players both after the Black Cats' 3-0 defeat at West Brom on Saturday and then back on Wearside the following day.
But as the debate over Di Canio's man-management skills or lack of them raged on, Byrne claimed it was the fear of relegation which prompted owner Ellis Short to act.
Writing in her programme notes ahead of Tuesday night's Capital One Cup third round clash with Peterborough, she said: "Whilst the focus is on tonight's game, I know how disappointed each and every supporter was after Saturday's result at West Brom. Everyone at the club felt the same disappointment.
"After Paolo saved us from relegation last season, we gave him an opportunity to take the club forward this season.
"When it became obvious it wasn't working, we had to take the decision to part company with him. We felt it was better to do this now as we ran the risk of being cut adrift at the bottom of the Barclays Premier League.
"We wish Paolo and his staff well for the future."
Development coach Kevin Ball has been asked to take charge of the team for this evening's game as Short assesses his options for a permanent replacement.
It is understood he has now drawn up a list of potential candidates and started to take soundings with former Brighton boss Gus Poyet among those whose representatives have received an initial call.
Uruguayan Poyet has now replaced Italian Roberto Di Matteo as an odds-on favourite with the bookmakers, although an appointment is thought to be some way off.