SUNDERLAND fans have stepped up calls for Ellis Short to sell up by urging supporters to sign a petition in an open letter.

The Black Cats’ fan group Red and White Army have penned the letter and was made public on the same day it emerged Short is willing to sell for a cut-price £50m, although there has been no statement from the struggling Championship club.

The club’s American owner - who has had full control since 2009 - is desperate to offload and his attempts to move on last summer were unsuccessful following relegation from the Premier League.

A depressing season in the Championship, though, has now led to increased pressure from supporters.

Here is the letter in full from the independent supporters group: "This is an open letter to SAFC from the Red and White Army, Independent Supporters’ Organisation.

"It is somewhat of an understatement to say we Sunderland fans are not happy. For too long now we have suffered increasingly poor football, record-breaking poor results, a carousel of managers and a host of players who have not been up to the task or have given minimal effort.

“In too many cases ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ has never been more apt. It's felt like a gradual, painful demise; a death by a thousand cuts.

"We have an absent owner who no longer takes pride in our grand, old club. We find ourselves abandoned at the bottom of the Championship, on course to plummet into League One following two successive relegations.

“We are experiencing our lowest attendances since the opening of the Stadium of Light, with many fans now staying away to avoid more misery. Many supporters will not return until the current regime ends.

"Ellis Short might be ‘propping up’ the business and still ‘writing cheques’ to cover deficits, but as of now, Short is doing the very minimum he can as an owner of a football club. When all is said and done this is a mess of his making, so forgive us supporters if we're not gushing with gratitude for the money that has been wasted during the last decade.

"Do us a favour Mr Short — sell. Make it your number one priority to source a reputable buyer and go.

"Many loyal supporters debate the merit of demos and protests. Others talk of apathy and frustration. The match day experience is unrecognisable. Thousands of supporters have understandably given up and no longer bother.

“Sunderland supporters are a humble bunch, and we do not feel our club has a divine right to play at any particular level. This is about more than league position. It feels like Sunderland AFC has lost its soul, and with it we'll lose a generation of supporters.

"There may have been a period in which Ellis Short was enamoured of SAFC, but that time has long passed. By contrast our infatuation lives on, almost 140 years strong, a never-ending blessing and curse. Owners come and owners go. We’re Sunderland ‘til we die.

"We are a club steeped in tradition with its fair share of glory and pain, but through thick and thin this club has had a heartbeat, a lifeblood that is as passionate as they come. We are not the tatty, discarded plaything of a frustrated and disillusioned billionaire, who no longer finds novelty in owning a football club.

"We call upon Sunderland AFC supporters far and wide to sign our petition and tell the world what is happening to our football club. In our petition:

"We demand that Ellis Short makes every endeavour to find a reputable buyer for the football club he no longer wants. Produce a business case for potential buyers, and treat SAFC with the same respect that a successful businessman would a going concern.

“"We request that if Ellis Short cannot find a reputable buyer himself, employ someone to do it for him.

"In the meantime, we ask for transparency, honesty and regular communication between the owner and supporters."

Supporters can find the petition at