Sunderland sacked manager Chris Coleman on Sunday, and then announced that owner Ellis Short was selling the club following the northeast side’s relegation to the third tier of English football.
Sunderland said Short plans to sell to a group led by Stewart Donald, chairman of Eastleigh, a non-league club in the south of England.
Sunderland have dropped from the Premier League to League One in under 12 months following two successive relegations, with Short admitting in a statement his disappointment at how his stewardship of the Black Cats had ended.
“It is no secret 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,” he said.
“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.” Short added:
“To achieve this, higher offers from less qualified buyers were rejected and I have paid off all debts owed by the club and leave it financially strong and debt free for the first time since years before I owned it.”
The deal is subject to English Football League approval, with Donald confirming he intends to sell Eastleigh who play in the National League — the division below the three tiers of the English Football League that in turn sit beneath the elite English Premier League. Coleman, 47, replaced Simon Grayson in November but won just five of his 29 games, losing 16 times.
“Sunderland AFC announces that manager Chris Coleman and his assistant Kit Symons have been released from their contracts,” said the earlier club statement.
“The club would like to place on record its sincere thanks to Chris and Kit for their tireless efforts in what has been a hugely disappointing season for everyone involved with the club.”
Sunderland’s relegation to the third tier for the first time in 30 years was sealed by a 2-1 loss at home to Burton last weekend.