A takeover deal for Sunderland could be agreed 'in principle' by the end of this week, according to fresh reports.
Officials from two rival bids are understood to be working round the clock to push through a deal for the Black Cats.
American owner Ellis Short is set to decide between two bids; Television executives and Sunderland fans Leo Pearlman, Gabe Turner and Ben Turner - owners of Fulwell 73 Productions - or the unnamed German consortium.
Sky Sports report Short met with representatives from both rival bids in London last week and a deal could be agreed in principle as early as this week, with the German bid said to be leading the race at this stage.
Meanwhile, the consortium headed by Sunderland fans which is also trying to buy the club is being backed in significant part by cash from the United States.
The consortium, which reportedly includes former Arsenal defender Tony Adams and one-time Chelsea business affairs director Paul Smith, is understood to have opened initial discussions with Short.
Short has already opened discussions with Germany-based potential buyers, but the club revealed in a statement last week that there was more than one contender with "parties" interested in a takeover.
The American businessman has put the club's search for a new manager on hold until the uncertainty surrounding its ownership has been resolved, although he also placed a deadline on discussions with pre-season fast approaching.
That deadline is understood to be late June-early July, with Short understood to be willing to accept a deal in the region of £85million, although any sale would include add-ons should Sunderland win promotion back to the Premier League in the next few seasons.
Short valued the club - which is £110million in debt - at £170million last season when they were in the Premier League.
If a deal was agreed in principle, a period of due diligence would then be carried out which could take a few weeks.
The Football League would also have to rubber-stamp any sale.