Sunderland have confirmed that an agreement has been reached between current owner Stewart Donald and prospective new owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, with a takeover of the club set to take place in the New Year.
The deal is still awaiting EFL approval before it can be officially announced - something which isn't expected until mid-January - however, having accepted an offer from Louis-Dreyfus in November, Donald has now confirmed that the deal has been finalised after six weeks of negotiations.
Upon approval, the 23-year-old Frenchman will become the majority shareholder of the Wearside outfit, taking over from Donald who has been actively seeking a buyer for the past 12 months.
In a statement released on the club's official website, Sunderland confirmed an agreement had been reached, with Donald was quick to stress that the process had only taken so long because he was keen to ensure the club was left in the right hands.
“It’s been no secret that I have been looking for some time to find the right person to take Sunderland forward and during the course of the last year there have been a lot of different people wanting to take over," Donald's statement read.
"However, even though it is a matter of public record that some of those bidders offered me more money, I felt that they offered less to the club and to the community.
"Whereas from the early meetings with Kyril, his family and advisers, I have been greatly impressed with their knowledge and understanding, learned over a long period as owners of major football clubs in Belgium and France.
"I believe that experience, combined with a good plan, will provide a platform for the club to progress and I look forward to watching that progress from afar.”
Louis-Dreyfus took the opportunity to thank outgoing chairman Donald for his time in the negotiations, and outlined his plans for the club going forward.
“First, I would like to thank Stewart Donald for his integrity and reasonableness over the last three months, which has led to me having the opportunity to take a controlling stake in Sunderland AFC.
"I am fully aware of the efforts undertaken by the current ownership and Board to protect the viability of the Club and respect the difficulty of this task, given Sunderland’s recent past and the current economic climate.
“Moving forward, we have a long-term strategy which integrates Sunderland’s proud traditions with a modern structure and approach. We will seek to be at the frontier of research and innovation in all performance domains and place great emphasis on player development and the team’s style of play.
"We want to create a team that is entertaining to watch and that embodies the spirit and the culture of those who attend, thereby reconnecting the team with its fanbase, whose support will be so vital to our success.
"If we all play our parts, I firmly believe we can restore Sunderland AFC to the top tier of English football and I can’t wait to get started.”