TONY DAVISON is no longer Sunderland's managing director, the League One club has explained.

The lifelong fan of the Black Cats initially worked at the club from 1996 to 2005 and had a stint as Samson the Cat mascot on matchdays.

And he returned to the Stadium of Light under current owner Stewart Donald and director Charlie Methven after working at Tottenham and was appointed managing director.

Methven said: “We have all thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Tony throughout the last 18 months.

“It’s been extremely hard graft on his part and the club’s success came at immense personal sacrifice, with long hours and long weeks spent away from his home and family.

“As such, we all felt that it was the right time to part ways. We look forward to welcoming Tony back to the Stadium of Light as a guest on many future occasions, and he remains a close friend.”

A Sunderland statement added: “SAFC would like to thank Tony for his contribution following a successful 18-month period, during which he played a pivotal role in helping to turn around the club’s commercial operation."