Crunch takeover talks at Sunderland could be resolved by the end of this week, the Echo understands.
Sunderland owner Ellis Short has been locked in talks with parties interested in buying out his 100 per cent stake in the club and those talks are close to a resolution.
A German group of investors is looking to strike an agreement with Short, while there has also been renewed interest from a US-backed consortium.
That consortium initially involved Sunderland fans Leo Pearlman, Gabe Turner and Ben Turner, who own production company Fulwell73, but they pulled out because of other commitments.
The American backers involved in the bid were still keen to strike a deal though despite the high-profile fans standing aside, as previously reported.
Black Cats owner Short had set a deadline of the end of the month for interested parties to complete a deal for the club, with the players returning to pre-season training tomorrow.
The club is still without a manager five weeks after David Moyes handed in his resignation, with the ongoing takeover talk hampering the search.
But talks are at an advanced stage over the deal, with Short understood to want in the region of £85million to £90million.
Football consultant Dr Keith Harris has been involved in the sale talks.
American billionaire Short has bankrolled Sunderland since he took charge seven years ago and has since invested more than £200million of his own cash into the club.
Short bought Sunderland from the Irish-based Drumaville consortium in 2009.
In November last year, it was revealed that Short had enlisted the help of New York-based investment bank Inner Circle Sports to tout the club to potential buyers.
A three-page Sunderland prospectus was produced which details the assets included as part of any future sale, including the Stadium of Light and the 60-acre Academy of Light training ground.
First-team coach Robbie Stockdale is set to be in charge of leading the initial pre-season programme tomorrow, with a series of friendlies – starting against Bury on Friday, July 7 – and a week-long training camp in Austria lined up.