SUNDERLAND’S takeover is set to be finalised before the end of the week – but Jack Ross’ position as manager is not under threat because of the change of ownership.

Stewart Donald has agreed to sell the bulk of his majority stake in the Black Cats to MSD Partners, the New York-based investment firm that manages the capital of billionaire businessman Michael Dell.

Dell, whose involvement in Dell Technologies makes him the 25th richest man in the world, will be a passive, minority investor, with ownership of Sunderland switching to Glenn Fuhrman, John Phelan and Robert Platek, who are the principals of MSD Partners.

However, Donald and Charlie Methven will both retain a stake in the club, and continue to play prominent roles in the day-to-day running of the Black Cats.

The pair took control at the Stadium of Light almost a year-and-a-half ago, and are adamant they do not want the change in ownership to herald a switch of manager.

Reports over the weekend claimed Sam Allardyce had been lined up for a dramatic return to Wearside, but senior sources have dismissed suggestions that the former England boss could be about to begin a second spell in charge of Sunderland.

Instead, Ross will be given every opportunity to win promotion this season, with the Black Cats’ new owners keen to make the maximum investment permitted under the Football League’s Salary Cost Management Protocols when the transfer window reopens in January.

Under Football League rules, a League One club can spend a maximum of 60 per cent of their turnover on wages, a regulation that severely limits the scope for Sunderland’s new owners to make a transformative injection of funds.

However, Ross will be supported as much as possible as he looks to guide his side to promotion, with Donald and Methven having stressed the need for continuity and stability with the MSD Partners group.

The formal takeover process is almost at an end, with the Football League understood to have given the green light to the change in ownership. A formal announcement is anticipated before the weekend, with Sunderland’s new owners likely to attend the home game with MK Dons a week on Saturday.

The Black Cats are in action tonight with Rotherham United visiting the Stadium of Light, and Ross insists the ongoing takeover talk has not proved a distraction.

“We just get on with it,” said the Sunderland boss. “As players and coaches, it doesn’t really affect us at all. I haven’t heard anything about it in the last few days so we’re just cracking on with our jobs.”

Things went to plan at the weekend as Ross’ side claimed a 3-1 win at Accrington Stanley, and another win tonight would strengthen Sunderland’s position at the heart of the promotion places.

Tonight’s game will be Ross’ 27th home league match in charge of the Black Cats, and the Scotsman has only tasted defeat on one occasion, when Coventry City triumphed in a nine-goal thriller in April.

When he replaced Chris Coleman in the summer of 2018, Ross took charge of a club that had forgotten how to win at home. In their two relegation seasons, Sunderland lost 24 of their 42 home games, so the Black Cats boss is proud of his players’ efforts as they have sought to eradicate the mood of negativity that had enveloped the Stadium of Light.

“I think it’s something we should be proud of, and maybe make more of,” he said. “I know there were occasions last year when we were frustrated because we had draws rather than wins, but to only lose one game at home last season was impressive, and then to start this season in the same type of manner is something to be proud of.

“It’s not easy to do that, particularly when we speak often enough about the lift other teams get by coming to our stadium. By and large, we’ve had good attendances in the stadium, and that’s created an atmosphere and the team has responded. We’ve produced decent performances and results, and it’s a really healthy record. If we can continue that this season, we’ll give ourselves a good chance of achieving what we want to.”

Charlie Wyke is available for tonight’s game after completing his recovery from an ankle injury. The striker missed the trip to Accrington through suspension, but an ankle problem also meant he was unable to properly train last week.

He took part in a full session yesterday though, and is in contention for a starting spot against Rotherham.

“Duncan (Watmore) is obviously still out, but Charlie is back from suspension and is back from an ankle injury too,” said Ross. “He had an ankle problem that meant he missed a bit of last week, but he’s back and he’s trained okay.”

Sunderland (probable, 4-2-3-1): J McLaughlin; O’Nien, Ozturk, Willis, Hume; Leadbitter, Dobson; Gooch, Maguire, McGeady; McNulty.