A consortium headed by Sunderland fans which is trying to buy the club is being backed in significant part by cash from the United States.
A report emerged on Monday claiming that television executives Leo Pearlman, Gabe Turner and Ben Turner – owners of Fulwell 73 Productions – are hoping to challenge a German consortium to buy out current owner Ellis Short.
However, Press Association Sport understands that much of the group’s funding would come from America.
The consortium, which reportedly includes former Arsenal defender Tony Adams and one-time Chelsea business affairs director Paul Smith, is understood to have opened initial discussions with Short, who appears to be ready to do business after a bruising spell at the Stadium of Light.
Short has already opened discussions with Germany-based potential buyers, but the club revealed in a statement last week that there was more than one contender with “parties” interested in a takeover.
The American businessman has put the club’s search for a new manager on hold until the uncertainty surrounding its ownership has been resolved, although he also placed a deadline on discussions with pre-season fast approaching.
Sunderland were relegated from the Premier League at the end of last season, made a loss after tax of £33million for the financial year to July 31, 2016, and has a net debt of £110.4million.
Former manager David Moyes parted company with the club last month after discussing his blueprint for the way forward and Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes rejected the opportunity to replace him last week once he had learned of the ongoing discussions over a possible sale.
The club remains in a state of flux with the squad, which will need substantial rebuilding, due back for pre-season training on June 29, and the fixtures for the new Sky Bet Championship season – which gets under way on August 4 – are due to be announced on Wednesday.