SUNDERLAND minority shareholder Juan Sartori is close to completing a deal that would see him link up with Kyril Louis-Dreyfus to become majority owners of the club.

After months of takeover uncertainty, Stewart Donald is understood to have agreed the framework of a deal that would see him sell a majority share to a consortium led by Sartori and Louis-Dreyfus, but retain a 15 per cent stake in the Black Cats. It is also understood that current board member Charlie Methven would also retain his current shareholding, which is around five per cent.

Sartori, a Uruguayan businessman and politician who currently sits on the Sunderland board and has a 20 per cent stake in the club, entered into a period of exclusivity with Donald earlier this season.

However, it is only in the last few weeks that the financial framework of what is likely to be a successful bid has come together, largely thanks to his tie-up with Louis-Dreyfus.

The 22-year-old is the son of former Marseille owner Robert Louis-Dreyfus, and is an associate of Sartori, who has family links in the south of France.

Along with his twin brother, Maurice, Kyril Louis-Dreyfus is one of three heirs to his late father’s fortune following his death in 2009. According to a report in The Guardian, he is estimated to have a trust fund worth more than £2bn, which is held by his mother, Margarita, who remains a minority shareholder in Marseille.

Senior sources suggest a deal should go through before Christmas, with Donald keen to complete the process of selling a majority stake. The Sunderland owner, who assumed control of the club after buying out former owner Ellis Short in April 2018, has previously valued the Black Cats at £37.6m.

Takeover talk intensified earlier this week when chief executive Jim Rodwell cancelled a scheduled meeting with representatives of a number of supporters’ groups, claiming that ongoing takeover discussions made it impossible for him to deliver an update on the club’s situation.

“The club remains in a period of exclusivity with a preferred buyer, and due to the advancement and sensitivity of this process, it would be inappropriate to comment publicly at this time,” said Rodwell in a statement.

Phil Parkinson was asked about the takeover situation when he held his press conference ahead of tomorrow’s League One game with MK Dons today, and while he said he did not know of any ongoing developments, he conceded he had not asked to be kept updated at every stage of the process.

“I’ve been at a lot of clubs as a manager and takeover talk is quite often in the air,” said Parkinson. “It’s important as a manager, and for the players, that we put that to one side.

“When, or if, a takeover finally happens, then the owner of the club, Stewart Donald, will ring me I’m sure and let me know. But a lot of times, there’s still a lot more work to be done than people think, so I just concentrate on the team.

“I haven’t been told anything official, but I like it that way. I just want to know when I need to know something. When that stage comes, I’m sure I’ll be informed.

“Honestly, I haven’t spoken to anybody about the takeover. When I was younger, I would ask a lot of questions and get involved in it. But I’ve found that a lot of times, they don’t come to fruition anyway and you’ve wasted a lot of time.

“My own choice is that I just want to concentrate on preparing the team for each and every game. If a takeover does go through, I’ll look forward to meeting the new owners and telling them my thoughts on what I think we need to go forward.”

Whatever happens with regard to Donald’s attempts to sell up, Parkinson’s task for the remainder of the season will not really alter.

Even if new owners arrived with plenty of money to spare, their ability to invest in the playing squad will be severely limited by the salary cap rules that were voted in earlier this summer.

Sunderland are already extremely close to the £2.5m annual limit permitted in League One, so no matter what happens between now and January, Parkinson will be unable to make significant changes when the transfer window reopens.

“It’s very complicated,” said the Sunderland boss. “That’s why I didn’t agree with it in the summer. It takes the ability away for someone to buy a football club and say, ‘Right. I’d like to invest some money in the squad and give the manager the opportunity to bring in two or three players’. It takes away the ability to do that.

“I don’t think it’s right. It’s not going to be a normal January - there are restrictions that have been put upon us. Like I said in the summer, I’m pleased with the squad we’ve got.”