Sunderland have been given permission to speak to Preston boss Simon Grayson about becoming the club's new manager as takeover talks have collapsed.
The Black Cats have announced that owner Ellis Short will remain at the club having failed to reach agreement with a group seeking to buy Sunderland off him.
A statement released on the club's website reads thus:
Recently, we informed supporters that discussions were taking place with parties who had expressed an interest in acquiring ownership of Sunderland AFC.
Subsequently, more detailed talks were held over the last week with one of these groups.
Ellis Short and the board were committed to ascertain if this group was better placed to take the club forward in the right way and to improve it, both on and off the pitch.
A defined timeframe was placed on discussions to ensure that the club could move forward quickly and decisively with its plans for the new season should they not come to fruition.
We have concluded these talks and have determined that this proposed sale would not be in the best interests of Sunderland AFC.
Ellis Short will continue his commitment to the club, both financially and personally, moving forward.
We would like to thank our supporters for their patience during what we know has been a period of uncertainty and frustration for them.
Almost simultaneously, Preston North End announced that Grayson has requested to talk to Sunderland who approached him about succeeding David Moyes at the Stadium of Light:
Preston North End have today been contacted by Sunderland Football Club to ask permission to speak to Simon Grayson in relation to their vacant managerial position.
Having spoken to Simon, he has asked permission to speak to the Black Cats and therefore the club had no option but to allow these conversations to take place, with a compensation package already guaranteed in his contract.
Grayson has been in football management since calling time on his playing career twelve years ago. A defender with the likes of Leicester, Aston Villa and Blackpool, the Ripon-born boss took charge of Blackpool in 2005 followed by spells at Leeds and Huddersfield before joining present club Preston in 2013.
With promotions into the Championship at Preston, Leeds and Huddersfield followed by stability for each in the division, Grayson is considered a safe pair of hands for a Sunderland side who have now been without a manager since late May.
The Black Cats first team returned to training today with head coach Robbie Stockdale overseeing preliminary preparations. The club's opening pre-season friendly takes place next Friday against Bury.
But it is the takeover situation which will have fans on Wearside dismayed today. It is thought current owner Ellis Short had imposed a deadline of Saturday at noon for talks to be concluded one way or another.
Little has emerged in public or on the grapevine this week as a German-led consortium appeared to have been locked away furiously working through a due diligence process.
A rival American bidder was thought to be watching on but with Sunderland unable to afford to wait any longer with the start of the Championship campaign now just five weeks away, all bids are off and Ellis Short remains.
It feels like something of a disaster. An owner lingering on who has no desire to keep hold of the club he gained control of in 2009, crippled by enormous debts with a huge summer rebuild to be completed having lost the month of June to futile takeover talks.