A FORMER North-East football star is returning to the region to set up the UK headquarters of his broadband business, The Northern Echo can reveal.
Ex-Sunderland AFC striker Niall Quinn is in advanced talks over the move that aims to bring super fast internet links to rural communities.
In recent months, the ambitious entrepreneur has been looking at
offices across the North-East for his Q Sat business and he expects to agree a deal on new premises in the coming days.
The Irishman, who became a much admired chairman of the Wearside club, developed a strong affinity for the region following his transfer from Manchester City in 1996. Quinn said the business could have been established anywhere in the country but that he was determined to make the North-East Q Sat's UK home.
The company will use satellite technology to offer high speed internet links to the some three million UK homes with limited broadband access. Householders in the Durham Dales, as well as rural parts of North Yorkshire and Northumberland are high on Quinn's target list of potential customers.
He expects that the offices, which will house sales, installation and support staff, will employ initially about as many as the 50-strong workforce Q Sat has in Ireland.
The Dublin-based company has grown rapidly since Quinn took control shortly after he left the Black Cats in February. It has set up a comparable operation in Kenya as a hub for expansion across Africa and won customers in rural Ireland. The new North-East base will be used as a launchpad to grow significantly Q Sat's market share across the UK.
Quinn became a fans favourite at The Stadium of Light for his prolific
goalscoring partnership with Kevin Phillips.
His playing career ended in 2002 but he returned to his beloved Sunderland four years later as head of a group of Irish tycoons who bought the club from then chairman Bob Murray. Quinn's commercial nous and way with words later helped persuade Ellis Short, a reclusive billionaire Texan, to buy a stake in the club.
Quinn was made an honorary MBE for his charity work and is a patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
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