STEWART DONALD insists he has “not haggled” over the selling price of Sunderland – despite reports that a proposed sale to American investors has collapsed.

Claims have circulated today suggesting the US based MSD Partners group have withdrawn their interest in Sunderland.

Last month, it was suggested the group, which is led by Glenn Fuhrman and formed from the investment arm of the estate of Michael Dell, founder of Dell Technologies, was close to completing a deal that would have resulted in the purchase of most of Donald’s majority stake in the Black Cats.

Donald suggested a deal was on the verge of being completed when he spoke to the Roker Rapport podcast, but it appears as though financial complications have scuppered any hope of an agreement.

Furhman is known to have been conducting a process of due diligence, and it is understood than issues arose during an assessment of Sunderland’s financial position.

It is suggested that the MSD Partners group felt Donald’s initial valuation of the club was too high, and questions are also believed to have been raised about the extent of the club’s academy assets.

Sunderland have not made a public comment on the situation, but Donald has tweeted a response to a fan who raised concerns about the possible collapse of a deal.

He tweeted: “I have done and am doing my best to attract investment from quality people. I cannot comment on where the deal is for investment yet - I said two weeks & I will update you. I can tell you there is no issue with valuations. I haven't haggled price!”

He later added: "I can't comment much it is still ongoing - so that tells you that we are still hopeful of investment. What I can confirm is that I have NEVER moved the valuation and there will be no way if a deal doesn't happen it will be because of the price. I am working hard to get investment."

Donald has always insisted he has been pursuing various ways to bring outward investment into the club, but the fact he is even discussing the possibility of the MSD Partners deal not coming to fruition suggests things have not progressed smoothly.

Sunderland are in action at the Stadium of Light tonight as they host Grimsby Town in their opening group game in the Trophy.