Sunderland have been given permission to speak to Preston North End boss Simon Grayson.
The Championship club released a statement today saying the Black Cats had approached them about the 47-year-old, with a view to him becoming their new manager.
The statement said: "Preston North End have today been contacted by Sunderland Football Club to ask permission to speak to Simon Grayson in relation to their vacant managerial position.
"Having spoken to Simon, he has asked permission to speak to the Black Cats and therefore the club had no option but to allow these conversations to take place, with a compensation package already guaranteed in his contract.
"Whilst these talks are ongoing, Steve Thompson will be in charge of first team affairs.
"The club will make no further comment at this stage."
Grayson has been the bookies favourite since Derek McInnes rejected the chance to replace David Moyes.