SUNDERLAND’S takeover process could be completed by the end of the week, with Juan Sartori and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus having finalised a deal with the club’s current majority shareholder Stewart Donald.

Neither Sunderland nor the EFL were willing to comment on weekend reports suggesting a change of ownership is imminent, but the Football League authorities are understood to have begun the formal process of undergoing their owners and directors’ test, which is a prerequisite for a deal going through.

Sartori, a South American businessman who has been involved with Sunderland for two-and-a-half years, and Louis-Dreyfus, a 22-year-old Swiss heir to a family fortune, are set to take control of 80 per cent of the Black Cats’ shareholding, with Donald retaining 15 per cent and former board member, Charlie Methven, holding on to his current five per cent stake.

The proposed new owners are set to appoint a director of football to oversee strategic decision-making, although current chief executive Jim Rodwell is expected to retain his position in charge of day-to-day affairs.

William Storey, founder of energy drinks company Rich Energy, took to social media over the weekend to claim he had submitted a second formal offer for Sunderland, which he described as “by far the biggest offer received by Madrox Partners Ltd”.

Storey has claimed to be on the brink of buying Sunderland for a number of weeks now, but the partnership between Sartori and Louis-Dreyfus was granted a period of exclusivity more than a month ago and that situation has not changed.

Whoever takes over at the Stadium of Light, the future of manager Phil Parkinson will continue to be a subject of considerable debate. Sunderland have failed to win any of their last five matches in all competitions, and are eighth in the League One table ahead of Tuesday’s home game with Burton.