Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne has resigned in the wake of the Adam Johnson child sex abuse case admitting "a serious error of judgement".
Johnson was suspended a year ago then allowed back into the team and played for the Premier League strugglers until his trial when he pleaded guilty to grooming and a sexual activity with a child.
Pressure was put on the club after Johnson's legal team told Bradford Crown Court the club was aware that he had told police he kissed the girl.
The club had stated he had told them he intended to deny all the charges against him.
Ms Byrne said in a statement: "Contrary to what has been suggested, I did not understand that Mr Johnson intended to change his plea at trial or at all.
"I was astounded when he did plead guilty.
"I accept that Mr Johnson should not have been permitted to play again, irrespective of what he was going to plead.
"It was a serious error of judgement and I accept full responsibility for this."