Dromintee woman flying high with the Black Cats

Newry Times News Posted by
Friday, December 2nd, 2011

A Dromintee woman is fast becoming one of the most influential people in English football, having recently been appointed CEO of Premier League side Sunderland. Margaret Byrne’s fantastic story is set to become even better as she will play a pivotal role in appointing Sunderland’s next manager, after the sacking of Steve Bruce earlier this week. With the new manager set to be Martin O’Neill, Margaret will not be the only one at Sunderland hailing from Ulster.

Margaret’s fascinating career doesn’t end at Sunderland, she was last month voted on to the FA Council ahead of Liverpool’s managing direction Ian Ayre. Margaret will be working along side representatives from the top four tiers of English football, county FAs and non-executive board of The Football Association to decide the major policies of the governing body of English football.

Miss Byrne began her career at London’s highly regarded BBP Law School, and the differences from south Armagh were obvious from the start. She recalls: “There was this massive difference in culture I was trying to get my head around. London felt like such a big city and I was a country girl.”

Margaret had originally planned to return to Northern Ireland having qualified as a solicitor, however London was not finished with her yet, with top firm Galbraith Branley offering her a training contract which lasted for two years. Miss Byrne then turned her attention north when the job of company secretary at Sunderland came up and she was successful in her application; “It was a big change from what I was used to, everything was new and football is a very fast-changing environment.”

Byrne, though, it seems, is clearly keeping up with the pace having joined the Sunderland board and become legal director in 2009 before being promoted to the post of chief executive earlier this year. She also sits on the Premier League Legal Advisory Group. It didn’t take long for the promotions to come Margaret’s way having become chief executive earlier this year, while also getting a job on the Premier League Legal Advisory Group.

Margaret’s story is a very successful one, and she wants to replicate success with the north east outfit. Speaking about Sunderland’s ambitions, Margaret, who was recently short-listed for the UK’s solicitor of the year award said; “We want to be in Europe, that’s where we want to be, and that’s where we should be. We want to be as successful as possible.”

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