Footballer Adam Johnson has been sacked by Sunderland after admitting to two child-sex charges involving an underage girl at Bradford Crown Court this week.
The player was told his contract was being terminated the day after he pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual activity with a 15-year-old and another of grooming.
Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce confirmed earlier on Thursday that Johnson, who was on a salary of £50,000/week at the Stadium of Light would not play in the Premier League against Manchester United on Saturday.
But the situation quickly escalated and senior club officials who were shocked by his admission of guilt after being led to believe he would plead not guilty to all four charges took the decision to terminate his contract on Thursday night.
In light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect. The club will make no further comment.”
Allardyce said last week that the 28-year-old would feature for the first team throughout his trial, but at the time believed the player would plead not guilty to all four charges.
The news came just hours after sportswear manufacturer giants Adidas terminated their boot sponsorship with Johnson, saying in a statement:
Adidas can confirm that it has terminated its £10,000-a-year boot contract with footballer Adam Johnson with immediate effect. This follows his guilty pleas entered earlier this week.”
Reports say that Adidas’ deal to supply Sunderland’s kit is not affected as Johnson’s contract was a separate endorsement. The club’s main sponsors are also declining to comment until the conclusion of his trial.
Johnson will return to Bradford Crown Court today for the resumption of his trial. Although he has admitted two offences, said to involve kissing and touching the child, he has denied two other charges.
He now faces the prospect of a custodial sentence with guidelines for the grooming offence suggesting a maximum prison term of two years and six months. The maximum possible sentence for the charges he denies is 14 years.
The 28-year-old, who has played 12 times for England, was originally suspended by Sunderland after his arrest last March but was reinstated and helped the club avoid relegation.
The footballer played at Middlesbrough and Manchester City before transferring to Sunderland, his hometown club, in a £10m deal in 2012. He had made 20 appearances this season and scored two goals.
Sunderland-born Johnson emerged from the academy set-up at Middlesbrough as a teenager, earning a £7million move to City in February 2010.
However, he lasted just two-and-a-half years in the blue half of Manchester as he found himself surplus to requirements, and then Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill felt he had staged something of a coup in luring him back to Wearside with a £10million bid during the summer of 2012.
The winger’s early form for the Black Cats saw him return to the England squad, although he has found the going tougher in recent years.
In all, he made 141 appearances for the club, 29 of them as a substitute, and scored 22 goals, the last of them his side’s first in a 2-2 league draw at Liverpool on Saturday. little did he know it was to be his final act as a Sunderland player.