Stewart Donald will be majority shareholder as duo emerge as managerial frontrunners

Stewart Donald will become a majority shareholder in Sunderland should the EFL approve his purchase of the club from Ellis Short.

Thursday, 3rd May 2018, 6:58 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd May 2018, 7:41 am
Chris Wilder.

Donald has agreed a deal to front a consortium of international businessmen and it is understood he will be the main investor with other parties taking a more minor role.

The Eastleigh owner is preparing for a hands-on role in the club and will make appointing a new manager his first priority after the dismissal of Chris Coleman on Sunday morning – with Chris Wilder and Michael Appleton believed to be leading contenders

Michael Appleton.

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Donald’s personal wealth significantly exceeds the £8.4million figure mooted in recent days but he is determined to make the club more sustainable financially.

The latest club accounts will underline the scale of that challenge with Ellis Short continuing to fund significant monthly losses. Sunderland’s revenue streams will be affected again by relegation to League One.

Donald has always been a visible presence at Eastleigh and is likely to adopt the same approach on Wearside as he looks to turn the club’s fortunes around.

The appointment of the right manager will be key, with Wilder, Michael Appleton and Mick McCarthy among the bookies’ favourites.

The former two are well known to the new regime and they are certain to be under consideration, depending on their availability.

The Echo understands that the pair are by no means the only names in the frame at this early stage, however.

Wilder has enjoyed two hugely successful years in charge of Sheffield United but recently raised doubts over his future as the Blades endure a protracted takeover process of their own.

Wilder oversaw Oxford United’s return to the Football League before taking over at Northampton Town and winning the League Two title.

His move to boyhood club Sheffield United brought an end to the club’s long exile in League One and they have been in play-off contention for much of this season.

The 50-year-old admitted last Saturday that he was considering his future.

He said: “This is my city, my football club. I have worked extremely hard to get in this position, I am ambitious. I believe in the ability of myself and my staff.

“I want to go forward with this club, but I can’t do it all on my own. If it stays the same, I don’t think anybody would be surprised if I didn’t question where my career was going.

“I want to progress my career, the careers of the staff and the players – and most importantly give the supporters some hope we can have a genuine football club with a strategy and plan to move forward.”

Appleton is assistant to Claude Puel at Leicester City but during his time in charge of Oxford United oversaw promotion from League Two and two runs to the Checkatrade Trophy final before narrowly missing out on the League One play-offs. At the time of his departure he said the chance to return to coaching in the Premier League was too good to turn down.

No appointment is likely until EFL approval is granted, with Donald hopeful that will come quickly and allow him to begin what will be a significant summer of rebuilding.

Kevin Phillips has been heavily linked with the role, but, at this stage, there is little prospect of a managerial rookie being appointed.