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Mar 12, 2014

Sunderland appoint Lee Congerton

Sunderland have confirmed Lee Congerton as the club's new sporting director.

Congerton joins the club from German outfit Hamburg, where he was working as technical director, and effectively replaces former director of football Roberto De Fanti, who left the Stadium of Light in January.

He will work alongside head coach Gus Poyet, overseeing player recruitment and the club's domestic and international scouting operation.

Congerton's appointment confirms owner Ellis Short's continued belief in the system which De Fanti was recruited to oversee.

The 40-year-old Welshman said: "I'm delighted to join Sunderland AFC and would like to thank the board and owner for this great opportunity. Working alongside Gus and his team was one of the influential factors in me joining the club and something that I am very much looking forward to."

After his playing career was ended prematurely by injury, Congerton served as academy director at Wrexham before joining Liverpool in 2002.

But it was at Chelsea that he made his big breakthrough, rising to the rank of chief scout during a six-year spell before following Frank Arnesen to the Bundesliga after the latter was appointed as Hamburg's sporting director.

Poyet said: "I would like to welcome Lee to the club. Recruitment is one of the most important areas in football nowadays, so I'm looking forward to working alongside Lee for the best of the club."

Sunderland will hope Congerton's expertise in recruitment will help them to bring greater order to their transfer dealings after a chaotic summer under De Fanti last year when then-manager Paolo Di Canio saw no fewer than 14 new faces arrive, some of whom have since made little or no impact.

Poyet and chief executive Margaret Byrne conducted the club's business in January as Liam Bridcutt, Oscar Ustari, Marcos Alonso, Santiago Vergini and Ignacio Scocco were drafted in, but the newcomer will now take over many of those duties.

Byrne said: "Lee is very highly regarded within football circles and we have been very impressed by him. We feel he is the perfect fit for the club in terms of developing our player recruitment strategy and helping to take the club forward."

What Congerton is able to do this summer could depend largely upon where the club is playing their football next season with the spectre of relegation from the Premier League still looming large.

Poyet remains confident his players can amass the necessary points to beat the drop, and he is equally comfortable with the prospect of working with Congerton.

Asked about the prospect last Friday, he said: "It's normal all over the world. Because you are not used to it, the words 'technical director', 'sporting director' mean 'devil', 'terrible'.

"It's normal. The most important thing is the relationship between that person and the manager or the head coach. It needs to be spot-on, it needs to be clear, it needs to be honest, it needs to be in the same direction.

"It needs to be special because if not, it's not going to work. It's about working together, understanding each other, knowing what is needed and doing your job. Apart from that, again for me, it's natural. I would take the situation, to work with someone in that role. It's natural, I am not worried at all.

"Now, if it's going to work or not, I don't know. I hope."

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