Sunderland yet to make formal approach for managerial 'target' while takeover talks take fresh twist

Preston North End boss Simon Grayson.
Preston North End boss Simon Grayson.
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Preston North End boss Simon Grayson remains a leading contender to take charge at the Stadium of Light - but there has not yet been a formal approach from Sunderland.

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Grayson and free agent Nigel Pearson are the two favourites, while Kevin Phillips and German coach Jens Keller from Bundesliga Second Division club Union Berlin also remain high up in the betting.

It has been a summer of uncertainty at the Stadium of Light.

It has been a summer of uncertainty at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland's plans to replace David Moyes in the managerial hotseat have been hampered by ongoing takeover talks, leaving the club in limbo ahead of the players returning from pre-season training on Thursday.

Fresh reports suggest Grayson is the leading candidate identified by chief executive Martin Bain but as yet there has been no formal approach from Sunderland.

Grayson is understood to be away on holiday until the weekend with the Preston squad also due back in training at the end of next week. He is reported to be on a one-year rolling contract.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder had also been linked with the Sunderland job but he is in line for a new deal after leading the Blades back to the Championship.

This summer has been played out in front of a backdrop of uncertainty over the manager situation and ownership of the club, with owner Ellis Short looking to sell up,

Takeover talks between Short and a group of German investors are at an advanced stage after another week of talks - but there are reports of a possible fresh twist.

As reported on Wednesday, the fan-led consortium including executives Ben and Gabe Turner and Leo Pearlman from Fulwell73 pulled out of talks with Short, saying now is not the right time for them to proceed with a takeover.

Arsenal legend Tony Adams, friends with the Fulwell73 executives, was part of that consortium which included financial backing from the US.

However, the Daily Star are now reporting that the US backers in that consortium are still interested in buying Sunderland despite the high-profile fans standing aside.

It may, though, already be too late for the consortium to strike a deal. As revealed by the Echo, the German group of investors are leading the way after being involved in talks for longer.

Football consultant Dr Keith Harris is involved in the sale talks and there are reports the group Adams is involved with will try and meet with him to see if a deal can still be salvaged.

The German group are in pole position though and Sunderland officials remain hopeful takeover talks can be concluded one way or the other in time for the first team squad to return to pre-season training next Thursday.

Unless a new boss is appointed by then, first team coach Robbie Stockdale will be in charge of leading the pre-season programme at the Academy of Light, with a series of friendlies and a week-long training camp in Austria lined up.

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