A club statement said: “Sunderland acknowledges that Margaret’s intentions have always been to act in the best interests of the club, however, it has become clear through our own internal investigations that in this instance, decisions have been taken by Margaret in error.
“Whilst swift and decisive action was taken to terminate Mr Johnson’s employment upon his guilty plea, decisions taken prior to this, including the decision not to suspend him for a second time pending the outcome of the trial, were wrong.
“Lessons have been learned and we hope that the club and its fans can move forward from this together.”
The Black Cats used the statement to issue a wholehearted apology to Johnson’s victim and admitted they had let her down.
“Throughout this deeply regretful situation, we recognise that one devoted young fan and her family have been very badly let down, first and foremost by Mr. Johnson and his despicable actions, but also by the club they support. We are so very sorry for this,” the statement continued.
“Mr. Johnson lied to the club; he also lied to our fans and they have every right to feel aggrieved by this. Lessons have been learned and we hope that the club and its fans can move forward from this together.’
Johnson is currently awaiting sentence having been warned he faces up to ten years in prison.