Sunderland have placed a time frame on talks with potential new owners as they look to bring an end to their search for a new manager.
The Black Cats looked to be closing in on the appointment of Derek McInnes earlier in the week, but, in a statement yesterday, they admitted that uncertainty over the position of Ellis Short was harming the process.
Any appointment is now on hold, though Martin Bain will have to continue his search should the interest parties withdraw their interest.
The statement read: “Since the end of the season, our focus has been to appoint a new manager. Recently, however, discussions have been entered into with parties who have expressed an interest in acquiring ownership of the club.
“With this backdrop, we have been unable to give the assurances any potential candidate would need regarding the plans a new owner could have for the manager’s position.
“The recruitment process, whilst still very much active, cannot therefore be concluded imminently.
“In talking to parties who have shown interest in acquiring the club, owner Ellis Short is determined to make sure that the best interests of Sunderland AFC are at the heart of any decision regarding its future,” it continued.
“We are of course acutely aware of the need to act swiftly to appoint a manager and to ensure that this is the case, have placed a time limit on discussions regarding a potential sale.
“If discussions are not concluded within our defined timeframe, we will terminate the process and move swiftly and positively forward with plans for the new season.”
Managers in the frame for the job have clearly been put off by fears that a new owner would want to bring in their own man for the job.
Preston boss Simon Grayson, the current bookmakers’ favourite, has played down speculation linking him with the club.
He said: ““We’ve had a good couple of years in the Championship and we want to keep improving.
“We were on the periphery of the play-offs last season and just ran out of steam in the back end of the season,
“I’ve been there just over four years now and really enjoyed my time. You just get on and do what you do and I’m focused on trying to get things right at Preston.
“I’m fully committed to Preston and, if anything changes along the way, that’s just football.”