TEAMtalk understands Sunderland have begun talks with Aberdeen over a move for manager Derek McInnes.
We revealed last month that Dons boss McInnes was Sunderland’s No. 1 target to replace David Moyes and they are now making headway in their bid to lure him south.
McInnes has a release clause in his contract, which sources have confirmed to TEAMtalk is worth £1.2million.
However, recently-relegated Sunderland do not want to meet that price and their initial offer is understood to be below £1million mark.
Talks are continuing between the two clubs, with McInnes due back in the country early next week, by which point Sunderland want to be in a position to confirm him as the successor to Moyes.
Aberdeen are already looking at potential replacements with former Preston chief Billy Davies an early option.
Former Scotland boss Walter Smith, 69, has been advising Sunderland in their search for Moyes’ replacement.
McInnes was a key member of Smith’s Rangers side which won the SPL title in 1996-97 and he is believed to be a big admirer of the 45-year-old, who has a 54% win ratio with the Dons.
McInnes guided Aberdeen to a second place finish in the SPL and a place in the Scottish Cup final, in which they were beaten by champions Celtic.
Last month ahead of the Hampden Park final McInnes insisted he was focused on Aberdeen: “Honestly, it’s been no distraction whatsoever.
“It just doesn’t play a part to be honest. At this stage of the season a lot of English clubs have finished up and when there are managerial changes and there are players moving on or players going out of contract, there’s loads of speculation.”