Sunderland have sacked winger Adam Johnson after he pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.
The Black Cats announced on Thursday evening that the 28-year-old former England international’s contract had been terminated, a day after he had admitted one count of grooming and another of sexual activity with a child at Bradford Crown Court.
A statement said: “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.”
Johnson denies two further charges of sexual activity with a child and his trial is due to resume on Friday.
Sunderland are understood to have been shocked at Wednesday’s guilty pleas, having allowed their £10million signing from Manchester City to resume his career after initially suspending him following his arrest in March last year.
The news came just hours after boot sponsor Adidas announced that they had terminated their contract with Johnson in a brief statement.
An Adidas spokesman said: “We’ve terminated Adam Johnson’s contract with immediate effect following his guilty plea on Wednesday. We’ve issued letters and verbally confirmed that with his management.”
Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce had earlier confirmed that Johnson would not be involved in the squad for Saturday’s Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester United.
Sunderland-born Johnson emerged from the academy set-up at Middlesbrough as a teenager, winning 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.
Johnson will not be the only absentee as Allardyce attempts to boost his side’s survival hopes with victory over a resurgent United.
The manager, who has been laid low all week by the virus which kept Fabio Borini out of the Liverpool game, has also been hit by a rash of injuries with defender Younes Kaboul and striker Duncan Watmore both having suffered ankle ligament damage, full-back Billy Jones struggling to shake off a hip problem and midfielder Jeremain Lens awaiting diagnosis of a suspected hernia.
He said: “We have got Jeremain Lens, who looks like maybe – we are not absolutely certain – but looks like it may be a hernia. I think we can get that repaired and get him back on the field relatively quickly.
“Duncan looks longer-term with ankle ligaments; Younes Kaboul was fully-fit last week and unfortunately turned his ankle on the Friday and he’s out for a couple of weeks, but Younes could be available when we get over this game, so it may not be the loss of games so much, but the time they take to get fit again, which is obviously very important for us.”