What we know about Sunderland's ownership situation and Niall Quinn speculation

Quinn has been linked with a sensational return to Sunderland
Quinn has been linked with a sensational return to Sunderland
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Niall Quinn has been linked with a sensational return to Sunderland, six years after his departure.

Quinn took control of the club as the head of the Drumaville consortium in 2006, before later handing over to Ellis Short.

Rumours of his return have been met with real enthusiasm from the Sunderland support, with his status as club legend secure.

So what is happening or what might any potential deal look like?

We take a look at the key questions....

Is there interest and how serious?

Sunderland are aware of interest from numerous parties but as of Monday morning, not from any consortium involving or attached to Niall Quinn.

Quinn is thought to have been approached by an interested party with a view to being involved in a deal, his knowledge and affection for the club widely known.

The Irishman has not spoken to Short regarding any potential deal.

The Sunderland owner is open to offloading the club should a credible buyer come forward.

In November, following a summer in which he rejected interest from a German consortium, Short told the club website: "I’ve got the interests of the club at heart and I’m not going to do anything that is not good for the club.

"I do understand that the fans want me out but I am certain that they would not have been happy with that transaction, and that is why it did not get done. Now, there is no longer an adviser, the club is not officially for sale.

"If there is a legitimate buyer that I can have a direct conversation with and it is a credible person, like probably any other owner of an English football team, I’ll have a conversation."

In a recent letter to supporters group the Red and White Army, chief executive Martin Bain said that this remained unchanged.

The value of the club has plummeted since the relegation to the Premier League, with League One football next season a distinct possibility.

Short has slashed his asking price on more than one occasion and crucial to any deal is likely to be the buyer taking on the club's significant debts, part of it owed to the owner and part of it owed to a third party.

The club are due a second parachute payment from the Premier League this summer, before on third final installment in the summer of 2019.

How significant is news of Quinn's potential involvement?

Quinn has returned to the business world since his departure from Sunderland. In August 2017 Sky Sports confirmed that he had stepped down from his role as a pundit due to his involvement with the phone app FanzFirst.

At this stage, a frontline return does not seem to be on the cards.

In his last spell at the club, Quinn fronted the Drumaville consortium, becoming Chairman and Manager. He stepped down from the latter shortly before Roy Keane's arrival but remained as Chairman until October 2011, when he was replaced by Short.

Quinn then became Director of International Development but stepped down in February 2012.

The Irishman retains a close interest in Sunderland and would surely be happy to facilitate any potential deal if possible and credible.

The kind of day-to-day involvement he had following the last takeover would seem unlikely on this occasion, though his love for the club is well known.

"I learned my trade at Arsenal, I became a footballer at Manchester City, but Sunderland got under my skin," is his most famous quote.

What does this mean in the bigger picture?

What we know at the moment is there is still much work to be done on any potential takeover, whether that be from investors associated to Quinn or elsewhere.

Black Cats fans will be encouraged that there is interest in the club, however, with discontent strong over Ellis Short's ownership.

The club are five points from safety in the second tier having spent just over £1 million in the transfer window last summer.

Chris Coleman added five players to his squad in January but four were loans, while Kazenga LuaLua arrived from Brighton & Hove Albion on a free transfer.

Coleman recently admitted that a change in the club's ownership was crucial.
He said: "We have to do some cleansing and regeneration because the club needs it.

"And let's make some changes, because the club needs it.

"Hopefully we can do this from the Championship and not from the league below, but if we can't stop it and that's the way it turns out then we have to look at it as a fresh start.

"But it all rests on what happens above me, and what the gameplan is.

"I know what my gameplan is, I know what needs to be done, whether or not I will get the chance to do it...I hope I do.

"But again, we don't know who, if anybody, is going to come in, and what plans they have got.

"The uncertainty makes it quite tough."

His thoughts are shared by the vast majority of Sunderland's support who hope for a resolution to one of the most difficult periods in the club's history, whether that be through Niall Quinn or somebody else.