Sunderland AFC owner Ellis Short has agreed to sell the club to an international consortium of football investors subject to English Football League approval.
The deal will see ownership of the club, who were relegated to League One, pass to the group led by Stewart Donald, chairman of Eastleigh FC.
The news followed the announcement that manager Chris Coleman and his assistant, Kit Simmons had been released from their contracts following defeat to Fulham on Friday night at the Stadium of Light which left the club rooted to the bottom of the Championship. .
Announcing the news, Ellis Short said in a statement: “It is no secret that I have been trying to sell Sunderland, but I have waited until the right group came along that have the experience, finances and plan to take this great club back to where it deserves to be.
“Overall, my chairmanship has not gone the way I would have wished; the many high points of a decade in the Premier League have been overshadowed by the low points of the last two terrible seasons.
“I was therefore determined to ensure that I leave Sunderland in the best possible hands and in the best possible state to turn the corner. To achieve this, higher offers from less qualified buyers were rejected, and I have paid off all debts owed by the club to leave it financially strong and debt free for the first time since years before I owned it.”
“Assuming that Stewart and his group win EFL approval, it only remains for me to wish them, and all associated with the club, the very best for the future. I will be a Sunderland fan for life, and hope to return as a fan to watch them climb back to where they belong.”
The news of the takeover will see National League side Eastleigh Football Club put up for sale as Stewart Donald relinquishes control.
In a statement on the Eastleigh official website, he said: “It is with great sadness and regret that I have to inform the Eastleigh fans that I have put our football club up for sale.
“I have spent over six years at the club and from the very first moment I arrived I have been welcomed and treated with great respect and kindness and I am truly grateful for the support everyone has given regardless of how well the team have performed at any given time.
“It is an emotional decision for me and one that I did not expect to have to make. However, with my potential involvement in Sunderland, it is a condition that I must relinquish control of Eastleigh. If the rules were different I would have loved to remain with the club for many years to come.
“My focus now must move to finding a suitable owner who will understand the ethos of the club. It is vital to ensure that the club continues to provide affordable football and progresses on the field whilst incurring absolutely no debt. I always ensured Eastleigh was run without debt and that any money provided was never going to create any debt.
“I would like to assure the fans that I will not charge for the sale of the club and do my very best to ensure that the club is passed to an individual or group that understands these principles and is committed to continuing them.
“I will obviously remain as owner for a short period and hopefully, I will get to see some of you before I depart and if not I will return and watch as many games as I can.”
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