The former Norwich and Preston manager joined the Potters, having watched their win over Blackburn from the stands on Saturday. Neil had taken over at the Stadium of Light in February and led the Black Cats back into the second tier through the League One play-offs. But he departs under a cloud, with the Wearside club claiming they had offered him an improved deal despite the fact he had only signed a fresh contract weeks ago. "Alex was our number one choice to become our new manager and I'm delighted we have secured his services so quickly," said Stoke joint-chairman John Coates. "His managerial pedigree is excellent with three promotions already on his CV and we are looking forward to working closely with him to help him realise the ambitions that he and the club share." A 13-match unbeaten spell under Neil guided Sunderland into the play-offs, where they went on to beat Wycombe 2-0 to end a four-year stay in League One. "First and foremost, we want to thank Alex for his contribution to Sunderland AFC," said the club's sporting director, Kristjaan Speakman. "The impact he made is clear and he played an integral role in our promotion last season. Despite signing revised terms earlier this month and receiving an offer to further improve his contract on Friday, Alex felt this was an opportunity that he wanted to pursue. "We are extremely disappointed by his departure, but we ultimately respect his decision and we wish him well. "The process to appoint a new head coach is under way and we will provide a further update to our supporters shortly." Neil's first game as Stoke boss comes on Wednesday night when they host Swansea.
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