The key questions explored and explained as Sunderland move to sack Didier Ndong
Sunderland's frustrating stand-off with Didier Ndong reached its perhaps inevitable conclusion on Monday with the club serving notice under the terms of his contract.
In essence, as with Papy Djilobodji, it means that the Black Cats have begun the process of sacking the Gabon midfielder.
It is an extraordinary state of affairs given that just months ago, Serie A side Torino had been prepared to pay around £7 million to sign a player who has flopped on Wearside but has undoubted promise.
Here, we consider how the situation is likely to develop going forward....
While broadly similar, the situations with Ndong and Djilobodji vary slightly.
Djilobodji was dismissed after failing fitness tests upon his return to the Academy of Light. The defender had also been given written permission to stay away in July, before failing to report at the beginning of August.
Ndong was dismissed shortly after arriving at the Academy of Light on Monday afternoon.
The club say that no reason was given for his absence throughout the pre-season programme.
As with Djilobodji, Ndong will become a free agent outside of the transfer window and so will not be able to join a new club until the winter market opens in January.
First and foremost, the club will have to go through the necessary procedures to rubber stamp and officially confirm the termination of their contracts.
IS IT A RISK?
While the move has largely been applauded by Sunderland supporters, there is understandable concern that the club have taken a risk.
While Djilobodji, at 29 and with little interest in his services, had little value, Ndong remained an asset.
Clubs had been willing to commit large sums for his signature this summer, only to be thwarted by the player's demands.
Sunderland have clearly decided to try and bring an end to the matter, partly because of the need to stand firm in the club's interest, partly to prevent it become a sideshow to the League One season and partly because they believe that they have a very strong case to recoup money through legal avenues....
HOW WOULD LEGAL ACTION LIKELY UNFOLD?
Sunderland believe they have strong grounds for pursuing compensation if and when Ndong joins a new club.
They believe that FIFA rulings mean that a new club would, alongside Ndong, be jointly liable for the losses Sunderland are seeking compensation for.
EFL rules, for example, follow the FIFA ruling in stating that should a player see his contract terminated, then the old club will be due compensation when they are registered with another club.
The onus, of course, would be on the club to prove that they have just cause for terminating Ndong's contract and that they have been unfairly prevented from recovering the value of his contract, which had three years left to run, via a transfer fee.
They would point to the bids from Torino and Benfica as proof of his value, and argue that the player has willfully brought that value down by not reporting for training.
Much the same would apply to Papy Djilobodji when he joins a new club, but of course his value is clearly much lower.
What is currently unclear is how Ndong would present his side of the story and to what extent he would contest Sunderland's version of events. Supporters will hope that the Black Cats have ensured they are on firm footing before going down this avenue.
HOW DOES THIS IMPACT THE DEAL WITH ELLIS SHORT?
Chairman Stewart Donald admitted earlier this summer that as part of his deal to buy the club, Ellis Short would be due any money raised by the sale of Ndong.
Should the fee ultimately fall below the agreed value, then Donald would top it up himself.
So how does these latest developments affect that?
The money will not have to come out of the club to satisfy Short.
Donald and his fellow owners are ahead of schedule on paying the £40 million fee agreed for the club and expect to pay it in full earlier than initially agreed.
To sum it up, no money for Ndong now means no money to Short.
WILL THIS ALLOW ROSS TO RECRUIT IN JANUARY OR BEFORE?
The failure to move Ndong and Djilobodji on was the key reason why Jack Ross was not able to recruit another attacker in the closing days of the transfer window.
He also confirmed last week that he would not be able to add any free agents to his squad in the wake of Charlie Wyke's injury.
That is unlikely to have changed with this news.
The club are pushing the EFL's salary cap close and Charlie Methven wrote candidly in his programme notes before the Rochdale win about the threat of fines and an embargo.
Should they get positive clarity and they officially depart the club, then they will likely have far greater wriggle room to make some additions come January.
THE STATEMENT IN FULL
"Sunderland AFC has given notice under its contract with Didier Ndong. The player, who was under contract with the club until June 2021, failed to return to Sunderland for pre-season training in July as scheduled, nor in the subsequent months that followed. No reason was given for his failure to report and continued absence.
"As a result, the club has accepted Didier Ndong’s repudiatory breaches of contract and notice of the same has been provided to the player. Sunderland AFC does so whilst retaining the right to pursue the player and any club he may subsequently join in relation to compensation for the value of the player."