CHARLIE METHVEN will retain his six per cent stake in Sunderland despite taking the decision to step down as one of the club’s directors.

Methven, who has been the mouthpiece of the Stewart Donald administration since buying in to the Black Cats a year-and-a-half ago, will formally leave the club’s board on Thursday.

He has opted to step down for personal reasons, citing a desire to devote more time to his political consultancy work and a change in circumstances as he due to have a child in the New Year.

The executive director has been a colourful figure since accompanying Donald to the Stadium of Light in the summer of 2018, with supporters initially warming to his straight-talking style and willingness to engage with the fans in a series of public forums.

However, he was criticised for branding some fans ‘parasites’ for watching illegal TV feeds of Sunderland matches rather than attending the Stadium of Light, and his reputation has been dented further by the Black Cats’ ongoing struggles that see them sitting in 11th position in the League One table ahead of today’s game at Gillingham.

His role as Donald’s right-hand man is likely to be assumed by Uruguayan Juan Sartori, who intends to spend more time in England in the second half of the season, but he will retain his shareholding in Sunderland.

“This is a really tough decision to make, but for both family and work-related reasons it was something I felt I had to do,” said Methven. “My wife and I are expecting our first child in the New Year, and the reality of my day job – which is largely political consultancy – is that the first months of a new government will be very challenging.

“I’ve been a largely absentee husband, father and colleague for nearly two years, as the SAFC project took over most of my life, and it’s time I repaid those close to me for their patience.

“As a shareholder, I will take a very keen interest in how we get on in the coming months and there are a couple of projects where I will continue to help Stewart and Juan. Finally, I would like to thank Stewart, for his unfailing friendship and some great times, the SAFC staff, who have worked hard to keep the club running so professionally as we went about a tough re-structuring and SAFC’s supporters.”