Sunderland supporters and business leaders on Wearside say they hope their team will have a bright future once again after Ellis Short announced he was selling the beleaguered club to a consortium.
The owner of non-league club Eastleigh, Stewart Donald, has, along with a number of other investors, agreed a deal, subject to Football League approval, to take over the Black Cats following relegation to League One.
No details of who is involved in the consortium have been made public although there has been speculation that a Spanish private equity firm could be part of it.
American billionaire Short has also agreed to wipe the huge debt, believed to be over the £100million mark, off the club, giving it a chance of a fresh start.
Just minutes before the sale of the club was announced, it was revealed that SAFC manager Chris Coleman and his assistant Kit Symons were being “released from their contracts”.
Despite leading Sunderland into the third tier since joining the club in November, Coleman has been popular with supporters due to his honest approach and willingness to take on the immense job of rebuilding SAFC.
Fans today spoke of their disappointment at Coleman’s departure but also the relief that the club is now in new hands following two dismal seasons which have seen consecutive relegations.
Veteran fan George Forster, 91, welcomed the takeover but said he was disappointed to see Chris Coleman go.
“I am a little bit sad,” said George, of Sunderland Supporters Association.
“The poor fellow wanted to be here and it’s sad to see somebody who wants to be here leave.
“All managers make mistakes and it is disappointing he did not get a chance to get things right, but we need somebody to step in.
“It does seem a bit cruel, but it is a cruel game and we have got what we wanted.”
Business leaders are also hoping that there will be a possible upturn in the team’s fortunes.
Sharon Appleby, of Sunderland BID, said: “It’s great news that the club has new owners and that they are committed to improving the fortunes of SAFC.
“There already seems to be a more positive buzz in the city and hopefully that will translate to success on the field in the future.
“Sunderland BID has always had an excellent relationship with SAFC and we look forward to working with the new owners in the future for the benefit of the entire city.”