KYRIL LOUIS-DREYFUS has increased his stake in Sunderland to 51 per cent, meaning he is now the club’s majority shareholder.

The Black Cats chairman had previously owned 41 per cent of the club’s shares, which meant that while he was a controlling shareholder, he did not boast a majority.

However, he has increased his stake by another ten per cent, with fellow director Juan Sartori also buying up another ten per cent of the club to take his shareholding to 30 per cent.

Charlie Methven has sold his entire shareholding, meaning he no longer has any formal association with the club.

Former chairman Stewart Donald has also reduced his stake to 19 per cent, so while he remains a shareholder, his remaining influence has been significantly reduced.

While the governance of the club remains unchanged, the boardroom reorganisation is hugely important as it removes any doubt about Sunderland’s future direction.

The previous split of shares meant Louis-Dreyfus and Sartori would potentially find it difficult to invest while they remained reliant on the cooperation of Donald and Methven, who had publicly stated their desire to sell at least part of their shareholding. Now that Louis-Dreyfus and Sartori boast an 81 per cent stake between them, that should no longer be the case.

The restructure also removes any possibility of a significant chunk of the club falling into the hands of The Fans Together, a cryptocurrency investment group who had been in discussions with Donald and Methven in an attempt to acquire some of their shares.

Sunderland supporters were deeply unhappy at the prospect of their club potentially being used as part of a crypto investment experiment, but today’s developments mean that will no longer be happening. Louis-Dreyfus has explicitly stated there will be “no further sale of shares to a third-party buyer”.

The redistribution of shares should also help provide some much-needed financial clarity as the club looks to make signings ahead of their return to the Championship at the end of last month.

While the Black Cats have offered new contracts to Bailey Wright, Lynden Gooch and Patrick Roberts, they are yet to make a single addition since their play-off victory at the end of last season.

“Today marks an important step as we continue to rebuild Sunderland AFC,” said Louis-Dreyfus. “Following the 2021-22 season, it was the intention of Juan and I to ensure the ongoing speculation relating to the club’s shareholding was addressed as soon as possible.

“Our ownership group has been consolidated and there will be no further sale of shares to a third-party buyer.

“We remain committed to our strategy of delivering long-term success and sustainability and together, alongside our dedicated staff and loyal supporters, I believe we can now move forward as one unified football club.”