A New York-based consortium continue to be linked with a takeover of Sunderland AFC - but the group will have to navigate one major hurdle.
Led by Mark Campbell, the group are believed to be prepared to take a 74% stake in the Black Cats this summer - and a deal could be completed this month.
Reports in the Daily Mail suggest that the group are confident of striking a deal as the club's current ownership eye some fresh investment.
But once a deal is struck, the club's new shareholders will still have to navigate one major hurdle - the EFL owners and directors test, otherwise known as the fit and proper persons test.
We take a look at what the test involves, the rules that govern takeovers in the EFL and how long the process could take:
WHAT IS THE EFL OWNERS AND DIRECTORS TEST?
The test is an assessment of the individual, or group, looking to take on the running of the football club.
It is designed to assess whether the potential owners can run the club in a suitable manner and that they have the required funds in order to do so.
Anyone who is a registered director of the club is subject to the test, with clubs having to provide an up-to-date list at the end of each season to ensure criteria is continually being met.
WHO HAS TO UNDERGO THE EFL OWNERS AND DIRECTORS TEST?
The EFL state that any “directors and individuals exercising ‘control’ over a Club, as well as any shareholder with a 30% stake in a Club (or greater)” have to undergo the test.
That means that Campbell is likely to have to go through the test should he be leading the consortium.
WHAT INFORMATION IS SUBMITTED AS PART OF THE EFL OWNERS AND DIRECTORS TEST?
Potential owners have to submit a variety of information to the EFL, with the league able to request any details they feel are necessary to ascertain whether they are able to take control of a club.
As well as the agreement to purchase the club, potential owners will have to submit financial records and prove they do not have any criminal convictions.
They may be also asked about their involvement in any other football club, should that become apparent.
HOW LONG DOES THE EFL OWNERS AND DIRECTORS TEST TAKE TO COMPLETE?
Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter
When a club intends to appoint a new director, or complete a takeover, they must inform the EFL at least ten working days before the director is anticipated to be appointed.
Within five working days, the EFL will respond stating whether or not they feel there are grounds on which to disqualify the potential director.
Should the league issue a disqualification that a potential takeover may ground to a halt, but if there are no grounds on which to disqualify then the appointment of a new director may proceed.
WHAT COULD LEAD TO A TAKEOVER BEING BLOCKED?
The EFL will disqualify potential directors - and in effect block a takeover - if any of these below applies to the individual:
- They failed to provide all relevant information (including, without limitation, information relating to any other individual who would qualify as a Director but has not been disclosed
- They provided false, misleading or inaccurate information
- They either directly or indirectly he is involved in or has any power to determine or influence the management or administration of another Club or Football League club
- They either directly or indirectly he holds or acquires any Significant Interest in a Club while he either directly or indirectly holds any interest in any class of Shares of another Club
- They become prohibited by law from being a director
- They have a Conviction (which is not a Spent Conviction) imposed by a court of the United Kingdom or a competent court of foreign jurisdiction
- They become the subject of an Interim Bankruptcy Restriction Order, a Bankruptcy Restriction Order or a Bankruptcy Order
- They have or have been a Director of a Club which, while he has been a Director of it, has suffered two or more unconnected Events of Insolvency in respect of each of which a deduction of points was imposed
- They are an Intermediary and/or is registered as an intermediary or agent pursuant to the regulations of any national member association of FIFA.
A full list of disqualification criteria is laid out in the EFL regulations, and there is an appeals process available against disqualification.