Stoke confirm Alex Neil arrival to leave Sunderland ‘extremely disappointed’

Stoke have announced the appointment of Alex Neil as their manager. The 41-year-old quit Sunderland to take over on a three-year contract and watched Stoke’s Championship win over Blackburn from the stands on Saturday.

Neil took over at Sunderland only in February and led them back into the Championship via the playoffs. Sunderland say they offered him an improved deal despite the fact he signed a new contract weeks ago.

“Alex was our No 1 choice to become our new manager and I’m delighted we have secured his services so quickly,” said Stoke’s joint chairman John Coates. “His managerial pedigree is excellent with three promotions already on his CV and we are looking forward to working closely with him to help him realise the ambitions that he and the club share.”

A long unbeaten spell under Neil led Sunderland into the playoffs, where they beat Wycombe 2-0 to end a four-year stay in League One. Neil has also managed Hamilton, Norwich and Preston.

“First and foremost, we want to thank Alex for his contribution to Sunderland AFC,” said the club’s sporting director, Kristjaan Speakman. “The impact he made is clear and he played an integral role in our promotion last season. Despite signing revised terms earlier this month and receiving an offer to further improve his contract on Friday, Alex felt this was an opportunity that he wanted to pursue.

“We are extremely disappointed by his departure, but we ultimately respect his decision and we wish him well. The process to appoint a new head coach is under way.”