Simon Grayson has signed a three-year deal as the new manager of Sunderland in a move that could have major implications for the Irish contingent at Preston North End.
Grayson has vowed to return the Black Cats to where they should be after being appointed at the club relegated from the Premier League last season.
The 47-year-old has signed a three-year contract after the club were given permission to speak to him on Thursday and will meet his players for the first time on Friday before flying off to Austria with them for a pre-season training camp.
A club statement said: “Sunderland AFC is delighted to welcome Simon Grayson as the club’s new manager. Grayson moves to Wearside after putting pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Black Cats.
“A seasoned manager who has taken charge of over 600 games, Grayson has vast experience of building and improving teams he takes charge of. He arrives at the Stadium of Light after four years at Preston North End, where he took the club from the lower reaches of League One into the Championship.”
Grayson will be joined at the Stadium of Light by number two Glyn Snodin, while first-team coach Robbie Stockdale and goalkeeping coach Adrian Tucker remain in post.
More than five weeks after David Moyes's departure, Sunderland turned to Grayson in something of a whirlwind after revealing that takeover talks with a series of interested parties had ended with no sale agreed, leaving current owner Ellis Short still at the helm.
The new manager said: “I am delighted to come to Sunderland, a club with such wonderful history and tradition. I’m excited by the opportunity to manage this club and I want to bring the good times back.
“Sunderland is so fortunate to have such tremendous support and I want to give these fans a team they can be proud of.
“I want a group of players full of desire, team spirit and a never-say-die attitude – that’s the very least that we should expect from a Sunderland player.
“The Championship is a demanding league, but with all the attributes I have highlighted, then our aim has to be to get the club back to where it belongs as quickly as possible and I can’t wait to get started.”
Grayson will start work with his employers desperate to restore a measure of normality after a stormy period in the cub’s recent history.
What assurances he has received over financial backing for his re-building project remains to be seen with the club having reported a net debt of €125 million for the year to July 31st, 2016.
Striker Jermain Defoe followed Jordan Pickford out of the exit on Thursday when he completed his move to Bournemouth and Fabio Borini is closing to sealing his switch to AC Milan.
Re-shaping the squad will be Grayson's first focus, although the impending departures of chief football officer Simon Wilson and chief scout Mick Doherty set to leave in an overhaul of the club's recruitment set-up may not help in the short term.
Grayson’s tight budget at Preston contributed to his focus on Irish players and having signed Andy Boyle, Daryl Horgan and, most recently, Seán Maguire from League of Ireland sides, there will be some concern about how they might fare under a new manager.
There is already some speculation, meanwhile, that Aiden McGeady, who did well while on loan from Everton at the Championship club last season and had been expected to return, might now be an early recruit for Grayson at Sunderland instead.
The bulk of the Preston squad returned to pre-season training on Thursday although Horgan, Boyle and Alan Browne have been given another week off due to their involvement with the Irish international team.