LONDON, February 12 – Sunderland have sacked Adam Johnson after he pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a child under 16 years this week.
The 28-year-old winger shocked club officials on Wednesday when he admitted one count of grooming and one of sexual activity with a 15-year-old schoolgirl. His trial at Bradford Crown Court on two further counts of sexual activity begins on Friday morning.
Sunderland released a brief club statement on Thursday evening, which read: ‘In light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect. The club will make no further comment.’
Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce confirmed earlier on Thursday that Johnson – who was on a £50,000-a-week at the Stadium of Light – would not play in the Premier League against Manchester United on Saturday, but the situation quickly escalated and senior club officials took the decision to terminate his contract on Thursday night.
The news came hours after sports manufacturer adidas terminated their boot sponsorship with Johnson, saying in a statement: ‘Adidas can confirm that it has terminated its contract with footballer Adam Johnson with immediate effect. This follows his guilty pleas entered earlier this week.’
Sportsmail understands that adidas’ deal to supply Sunderland’s kit is not affected as Johnson’s £10,000-a-year boot contract was a separate endorsement.
The club’s main sponsors are also declining to comment until the conclusion of his trial.
Allardyce said last week that the 28-year-old would feature for the first team throughout his trial, but at the time believed the player would plead not guilty to all four charges.
Johnson now faces the prospect of a prison term with guidelines on sentencing for the grooming offence giving a maximum of two years and six months.
Sunderland-born Johnson emerged from the academy set-up at Middlesbrough as a teenager, earning a £7million move to City in February 2010.
However, he lasted just two-and-a-half years in the blue half of Manchester as he found himself surplus to requirements, and then Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill felt he had staged something of a coup in luring him back to Wearside with a £10million bid during the summer of 2012.
The winger’s early form for the Black Cats saw him return to the England squad, although he has found the going tougher in recent years.
In all, he made 141 appearances for the club, 29 of them as a substitute, and scored 22 goals, the last of them his side’s first in a 2-2 league draw at Liverpool on Saturday.