SUNDERLAND are well placed to secure new investment ahead of a return to the Championship if promotion can be achieved by winning the League One play-off final today.

The Black Cats face Charlton at Wembley this afternoon for the right to return to the second tier of English football.

And that will mean a fresh challenge for next season, which would require greater transfer activity in preparation for a crack at the higher level under manager Jack Ross.

And executive director Charlie Methven has explained how preparations have been in full flow for months for such an eventuality, as well as moving to defend owner Stewart Donald’s reasons for buying the club.

Methven admits that the pair, who have stakes in the club, do not have the vast sums of their own money to carry out a rebuild on their own, which is why they have sought fresh investment ever since spotting an opportunity when they bought out Ellis Short 12 months ago.

“We started this process about three months ago,” said Methven, who owns around six per cent of the Wearside outfit, with Donald owning around 74 per cent.

“When it became clear that if the club was promoted to the Championship, whether this season or next, we needed broader finance to draw from to ensure we didn’t get caught short.

“The ideal has always been when we have approached these negotiations is that somebody would come on board, for a significant but not a controlling stake, sticking in a chunk of money and we carry on running it.

“Or somebody would come in and take a slight majority, but we would stay heavily involved and would carry on running the club.

“If we could not achieve either of those, we would sell. We’ve had people interested in all three of those options. We have had offers to sell and Stewart and myself would have done quite nicely out of it, but the club won’t be sold next week.

“We are talking to a couple of people who want to buy a stake, and if we win on Sunday, we are in a position to make that happen pretty quickly.”

Donald already sold a 20 per cent share to Uruguayan businessman Juan Sartori earlier in the campaign, and Methven is adamant that making a quick profit was never their sole intention.

That Methven claim arrived despite Donald initially spending just £5m to take over from Short, using the club’s parachute payments from the Premier League to pay the rest of the £37m asking price.

Donald and Methven did take on a further £20m in outstanding transfer payments inherited from the previous owner and that Sunderland have run at an estimated loss of around £10m this season.

Sunderland are due to break even as a business in the Championship next season without fresh investment, but the extra money that promotion would help to guarantee would fund the recruitment drive.

“Selling is the least preferred option,” Methven told the Telegraph. “This club needs stability, new owners would mean upheaval.

“The motivation to get involved in Sunderland was threefold. The challenge of turning around a famous old club. The second was a good deal to be done. We backed ourselves to make a good fist of it and that it would be a good deal. We are not fans, we are not philanthropists.

“The third reason was we wanted to turn this club around for the fans, for the people who care about this club.”