Di Canio takes Sunderland job
Sunderland have appointed Paolo Di Canio as their new coach on a two-and-a-half year deal.
Di Canio will take charge from Monday after travelling to the north east on Sunday for talks. The 44-year-old Italian replaces Martin O'Neill who was sacked following Saturday's 1-0 defeat at home to Manchester United, which left the club a single point above the relegation zone.
As a result of the appointment, former MP David Miliband resigned from his role as vice-chairman and non-executive director of Sunderland due to Di Canio's "past political statements".
The former foreign secretary made the announcement on his personal website, www.davidmiliband.net. Miliband said: "I wish Sunderland AFC all success in the future. It is a great institution that does a huge amount for the North East and I wish the team very well over the next vital seven games.
"However, in the light of the new manager's past political statements, I think it right to step down."
Di Canio has admitted to having fascist leanings, telling Italian news agency ANSA in 2005: "I am a fascist, not a racist."
The Italian, who has not managed at Premier League level before, has also courted controversy most recently following his acrimonious departure from League One club Swindon in February. Despite that Sunderland chairman Ellis Short believes the former West Ham forward is the man to steer the Black Cats away from the relegation zone.
"Paolo is hugely enthused by the challenge that lies ahead of him. He is passionate, driven and raring to get started," he said in a statement on the club's official website.
"The sole focus of everyone for the next seven games will be to ensure we gain enough points to maintain our top-flight status.
"I think that the chances of that are greatly increased with Paolo joining us. Our fans have shown tremendous patience and understanding this season. They have continued to back the team in huge numbers, both home and away, and that is something that continues to inspire all of us in our drive to give them the successful club they deserve. That remains our primary aim."