Mick McCarthy is one of the early favourites to become the new Sunderland manager after one of the most remarkable days in the club’s recent history.
Chris Coleman and Kit Symons were released from their contracts just moments before it was announced that a consortium fronted by Eastleigh chairman Stewart Donald had agreed to buy the club from Ellis Short.
Short has wiped the club’s debts but will receive a fee from the group.
Donald’s own personal wealth is modest by footballing standards, but he is backed by an international consortium, believed to include Spanish investors among others.
The deal will now be subject to EFL approval and Donald will have to relinquish control of National League side Eastleigh to comply with ownership rules.
Should the takeover be approved then it will likely begin a period of dramatic change on Wearside, with Donald saying in a statement that “a carefully thought-through plan to restructure the club, make it sustainable and, with the help of the fans, to restore its sense of pride and re-connect it with the local community. In short, we are rolling our sleeves up to do what needs to be done to ready this club to start competing again.”
One of his first talks will be to secure the services of a new manager after Coleman’s shock sacking.
Despite a brutal start to his tenure as Black Cats boss, he was determined to oversee a revival, and has been left reeling by developments.
As recently as Thursday, he spoke of his desire to sell a his vision for the club to any new potential owner, adding that he had no indication any deal was imminent.
Former Black Cats boss McCarthy is the frontrunner with the bookmakers after leaving his post as manager of Championship side Ipswich Town just weeks ago.
Before Coleman’s arrival last year the 59-year-old said he would jump at the chance to return to the club.
He said: “Maybe if I was out of contract... Oh yeah, if I was out of contract, and I was free and available, then yes I’d go back in a heartbeat because I loved my time there.
“But I’m not out of contract, I’m not free and available, so no I wouldn’t be going back.”
He boasts a formidable record at Football League level and oversaw Sunderland’s return to the Premier league in 2005.
He left the following season with the club badly struggling to survive.
Other names leading the betting include Michael Appleton, currently assistant to Claude Puel at Leicester City.
Highly-regarded in the game for his coaching abilities, he overcame a difficult start to his managerial career to impress as boss of Oxford United, a club in which Stewart Donald has strong links.
Odds tumbled on Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook taking the post late yesterday, with some markets suspending betting on the former Portsmouth boss, who has led the Latics to the League One title this season, as well as a shock FA Cup win over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has also been linked, having won two consecutive promotions with Northampton and the Blades, just missing out on the Championship play-offs with the latter this season.
After losing 1-0 to Preston North End at the weekend he threatened to leave Bramall Lane should the club’s ownership not be resolved in the near future.
He has also managed Oxford United in the past.