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NewsWipe: Sunderland Take-Over Talk - What We Know

In this evening's NewsWipe special: Comment and analysis on today's news that Sunderland owner, Ellis Short, may be actively upping his efforts to sell the club. Here's what we know.

Today's story in the Sun regarding Sunderland owner, Ellis Short, being "desperate to sell the club" has elevated talk of a take-over right to the top of the agenda as 2016 draws to a close and an unprecedented year of turmoil and intrigue draws to an end.

Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Supporting Sunderland is rarely dull, but just as the club have begun appearing to build some sort of foundation - despite results on the pitch - the prospect of more upheaval and change has loomed large.

The Sun piece is notable for the detail within it. We've all read tales of owner Ellis Short being 'ready' to sell the club; but to learn of a brokerage company being engaged to locate a buyer ratchets up the plot to a whole new level. And to learn of our beloved fixtures and fittings featuring in a prospectus to tempt would-be investors is rather stark.

Allegedly the financial firm Inner Circle have been engaged by Short to find potential purchasers for the club bottom of the Premier League. The Sun claim that a prospectus is available which can be emailed to interested parties.

Some of the content of the document is, of course, rather impressive. A 49,000-seat stadium, one of the biggest in England and host to international matches and pop concerts featuring some of the world's biggest stars; a state-of-the-art training facility and academy with 180-acres of adjacent land available for commercial development.

That's not to mention benefits including access to the world's biggest football TV market and associated revenue; ten straight seasons in the top-flight and the sixth highest average gate in the country. All dependent, of course, on yet another escape from the dreaded drop. So selling now makes sense - though the summer would have been prime time.

However, supporters could be forgiven for believing some elements of the brochure are a spoof, such is the ludicrosity of a few choice boasts.

It claims Sunderland are on a "sound financial footing" despite publicly available accounts detailing debts upwards of £140m. But, the section on playing personnel and transfer investment beggars belief.

The assertion that the club have "invested heavily in player transfers" may pass muster, but to boast of having Wahbi Khazri, Jeremain Lens, Fabio Borini, Ricardo Alvarez and Jack Rodwell on the books gives the impression that this document was written by a Newcastle supporter on a wind-up.

Admittedly not all of the above have been disastrous signings, but they're hardly the cream of the crop who would tempt the world's richest individuals or consortia to take a second look.

Alvarez and Rodwell have plainly been inserted either as a joke or to test the footballing knowledge of would-be buyers. Because if anyone out there is stupid enough to read that at face value, they deserve to be parted with £170m of their hard-earned cash in return for a bottom of the table side.

The Sun article even acknowledges that the brochure is an "amateur-looking document". Not that we're claiming it is a spoof, we have no idea on that score until the club make an announcement, if in fact they actually do. At best it looks badly put together.

What We Know

Well, we know Ellis Short is likely looking for a way-out of Sunderland. Eight years mainly spent in a relentless desperate fight against relegation, whilst hemorrhaging all of the wealth associated with being in the world's richest league plus your own cash is not what the Texan billionaire thought he was in for when he purchased the club out-right in 2009.

And if the mistakes he has made have been costly and numerous, it is not possible to build a case of sole blame and dump it at the door of Ellis Short's various homes around the world.

The last public statement from the club on the issue of ownership came way back in March, and then the media simply quoted "Sunderland sources" and claimed that they had denied there was any imminent sale likely.

Then in the summer, with a fresh round of rumours abounding, the Sunderland Echo were the ones to report that they 'understood' that Short might be minded to sell if he thought a sale would be in the 'best interests' of the club.

Now, with 'evidence' of a glossy prospectus being issued to potential buyers, the onus is on Ellis Short, or Sunderland AFC as an organisation, to make a statement on today's story.

Preferably before the home game on Saturday - to ease the fears of fervent imaginations.

Forums and social media have been awash with sightings of Chinese investors, a German consortium and various other suspect-looking individuals checking the place out.

So, ultimately - we know the club would be sold for the right price to the right bidder. We also understand that certain bids may have come and gone, but that interest from what may be best described as a 'multi-national organisation' may not have gone away.

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