The former striker will now "spearhead international development" including a trip to Abu Dhabi while Ellis Short will take over as chairman.
Niall Quinn steps down as Sunderland chairman to focus club's international profile
Niall Quinn has stood down as Sunderland chairman to focus on a new role within the club.
The former Black Cats striker will now "spearhead international development on behalf of the club" while Ellis Short, the Wearside club's owner, will take over as chairman.
Quinn's new role will involve "developing Sunderland's profile and business interest overseas", according to the club. Margaret Byrne, the chief executive, said that this will include a visit to Abu Dhabi in the coming months.
"This new challenge begins immediately as he represents the club at the prestigious Leaders in Football conference in London this week, after which he travels to Korea with Steve Bruce and Mike Farnan, international marketing director," she said.
"Trips to territories such as Vietnam, India, Abu Dhabi and Africa are also taking place in the coming months."
Byrne said that Quinn being widely known and respected in world football makes him perfectly placed to bring Sunderland to the forefront internationally.
Quinn, who had been linked with the vacant chief executive role at his former club Manchester City, told the club website that he was delighted in his new role and said that Short will be a good chairman in his place.
"This is a great opportunity for us to make the club stronger and I'm delighted that Ellis has agreed to support the plan," Quinn said.
"He'll be a fantastic chairman and taking this role on speaks volumes about his ambition for the club."
American owner Short, meanwhile, said: "I can assure our fans that it's the same group of people continuing to lead the club.
"With financial fair play rules coming into effect it is essential for the long-term success of the club that we develop interests on a global scale and there's no one better than Niall to sell the ethos of Sunderland to an international audience. He has been keen to drive this change for some time and I agree that it's the way forward for us now.
"Assuming the position of chairman is a great honour and I will treat the role as guardian of this club with the utmost respect."