Sky Sports News understands that Sunderland have been given permission to speak with Steve Bruce, although they may still look at other options.
The Black Cats are looking for a new manager after Ricky Sbragia announced his resignation on the final day of the season.
They appear to be keen to make a swift appointment and have been heavily linked with a move for Wigan manager Bruce over the past few days.
The Latics boss emerged as the odds-on favourite to replace Sbragia on Tuesday and later admitted he was 'flattered' to be connected with the role.
It is understood that Sunderland contacted Wigan to explore the possibility of Bruce taking the reins at the Stadium of Light.
Wigan then reportedly gave their permission for Sunderland to speak with the former Manchester United defender.
However, there are conflicting reports as to whether the Wearsiders will pursue their interest any further.
It is believed they wanted to strike an agreement with Wigan before meeting with Bruce and have so far been unable to conclude negotiations with their Premier League rivals.
The Black Cats, who announced a takeover by American billionaire Ellis Short earlier on Wednesday, may now turn their attentions elsewhere.