ELLIS SHORT is ready to let Sunderland go for nothing, provided there is a buyer willing to take on the struggling Championship club’s excessive debts.

On the day the Black Cats’ manager Chris Coleman revealed he had never spoken to Short during his three months in charge at the Stadium of Light, the American business tycoon has lowered his valuation once again.

Short had already lowered his asking price by £30m to £50m since last summer and now he has gone even further in a bid to sell up.

Any prospective buyer can takeover his controlling stake for free if any interested party is willing to take on the club’s debts.

That figure was last reported to have been £110m when the accounts were published last year. The expectations are that the debt has been reduced and the next set of financial results, due to be published in April, will reflect that.

Short is believed to be owed around £69m of the debt, while the remainder is owed to Security Bank Corporation, owned by Guggenheim Partners, and interest payments are said to running at approximately £8m a year.

Short hopes his latest step will enable him to move on after nine years in complete control on Wearside, and he has been unable to address an alarming slide which is threatening to end in back-to-back relegations after a decade in the Premier League.

Coleman, speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s visit of Middlesbrough, said: “I’ve never spoken with the chairman. I think I’ve been here three months and I’ve never had a conversation with the chairman.

“I’ve no idea about the price and I’ve no idea who, if there is someone, I’ve seen some of the reports about people interested but I can’t say to you that it’s close or it’s this.

“I’ve never ever spoken to the chairman, it’s tough. I’ve seen the reports, I’ve said what I’ve said but I couldn’t tell you any more than that to be honest with you.”

Sunderland are in desperate need of a lift, after a run of four defeats from the last five winless matches has seen the drop back to the foot of the Championship with just 13 matches remaining.

Even if Short sold the club, the challenge of staying up with rest solely with the players already at Coleman’s disposal because the transfer window has now closed.

Chief executive Martin Bain had to take the brunt of the criticism during last Saturday’s home defeat to Brentford, although the bigger picture is that neither he nor Coleman can really do what they would like because Short has stopped investing money in the club and team.

Nevertheless Coleman, who took on the challenge of keeping Sunderland up last November, is still focused on delivering brighter times to a club he remains convinced can recapture brighter times.

He said: “I’m not sorry I joined Sunderland football club. I always thought my experience, however long it’s going to be here, a year, two years, three years, we know what managing is like, we don’t know, would make me better.

“The situation I’m in now is super tough, of course it is. It will still make me better. Anything I've ever achieved, generally I've had to struggle for it, sacrifice for it and come through hard times.

“We’re in hard times now, we’ve been written off as a hopeless case, fine. Let’s see, let’s see if we can come through that little bit of adversity and prove people wrong.

“But, I’m more than happy to be here and it’s funny to say that I’m enjoying my work, it’s strange to say that. But, I’m still a part of a big club, yeah we’re in tough times, but we’re still a big club.

“The problem is when you’re a big club and it’s going wrong, it can be a lot tougher because of the enormity and scale of the job. But again, I’ll keep saying it, if, if we can get it going in the other direction, that’s one of the big reasons why I joined and why I came here.

“I’m not out of time yet, we’re not out of time yet, we’re written off, fine. We’re rock bottom but we’ll see how we turn that around.”

Rock bottom Sunderland could do with three points against Middlesbrough on Saturday, when Tony Pulis’ side will travel to Wearside looking for a victory that could seem them climb in the play-off places. The result might be important, but Coleman doesn’t consider it to be a Wear-Tees derby.

Coleman said: “I don’t think this is a derby for us, that’s Newcastle. Whether we like it or not, we see Newcastle as the derby, Middlesbrough is a big game like Hull is because it’s quite local.

“I don’t look at this as having the added spice of a derby game. They are fighting for different things to us. It will be another tough game, and the fancied team is them."

Sunderland will be without Ashley Fletcher who is ineligible under the terms of his loan from Middlesbrough. Joel Asoro and Josh Maja are the only striker options available to lead the attack. Adam Matthews could be available again if he comes through Friday’s training session fine.

Coleman was satisfied with his team’s display at Bolton on Tuesday, even if it was yet another defeat – the fourth from the last five winless matches that has increased relegation worries.

He said: “Nobody likes defeat, to lose, we have suffered four out of five games, but on one of those occasions on Tuesday we didn’t deserve it. We deserved something Tuesday night. We need more of that type of attitude.

“I couldn’t really fault them. We lacked a bit of confidence in the last third. Overall it was much better and is a good step for us.

“We need to show that more going forward because we don’t have a choice, unless we keep getting the same as what we are getting. What we can’t do is affect two crazy decisions by the officials, we can only affect our performance.”