A CONSORTIUM led by a group of Sunderland supporters has entered the race for control of the club, and is keen to hold formal discussions with owner Ellis Short.

The group is spearheaded by television executives Leo Pearlman and brothers Ben and Gabe Turner, who all have links to Wearside.

The Northern Echo:

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The consortium also has links to former Arsenal captain Tony Adams, who is currently the sporting director at recently-relegated Spanish side Granada, and Paul Smith, who was formerly the business affairs director at Chelsea.

Pearlman and the Turners are co-owners of TV production company Fulwell73, which produces The Late, Late Show with James Corden and was also involved with the production of the football film ‘Class of 92’, which chronicled Manchester United’s development into Premier League champions with the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and the Neville brothers in their ranks.

Adam and Smith have worked together on a number of projects in recent years, and came close to buying Aston Villa in 2015 when they led a proposed buy-out of Randy Lerner.

There was talk of a £150m deal at the time, but Chinese businessman Tony Xia ultimately took over at Villa Park in a £76m agreement.

Adams and Smith have also been credited with an interest in clubs in Italy, Portugal and Belgium in the last 18 months, and their mooted involvement in the group interested in taking over at Sunderland has led to a degree of scepticism about the financial muscle behind any bid.

Short is currently involved in discussions with groups based in Germany and the United States, with talks with the German group understood to be at a much more advanced stage.

However, while the Black Cats owner is willing to take a considerable hit on the £200m-or-so he has invested in the club since buying out the Drumaville consortium in 2008, he will not be accepting less than £90m for his 100 per cent stake.

At this stage, the German group are not believed to be willing to go so high, and while talks remain ongoing, Short is adamant he wants an indication that a deal is close by the end of the month, otherwise he will effectively take Sunderland off the market.

Meanwhile, Duncan Watmore and Paddy McNair are currently training in Portugal as they attempt to ensure they are peak condition for the start of pre-season training on June 29.

The pair, who both suffered cruciate knee ligament injuries last term, have been working with members of Sunderland’s backroom staff as they approach the end of their respective recoveries.