Sunderland shock: Coleman leaves and owner agrees sale

Matt Stead

Chris Coleman has left Sunderland and chairman Ellis Short has agreed to sell the club on a dramatic day at the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats first confirmed Coleman had been released from his contract, following their drop into Sky Bet League One.

Minutes later they announced a deal had been struck to sell to a group led by Stewart Donald, the chairman of National League side Eastleigh.

It will mark the end of Short’s turbulent ownership which has now seen Sunderland tumble from the Premier League to League One in less than 12 months.

Short said in a statement: “It is no secret I have been trying to sell Sunderland but I have waited until the right group came along that have the experience, finances and plan to take this great club back to where it deserves to be.

“Overall my chairmanship has not gone the way I would have wished; the many high points of a decade in the Premier League have been overshadowed by the low points of the last two terrible seasons.

“I was therefore determined to ensure that I leave Sunderland in the best possible hands and in the best possible state to turn the corner.

“To achieve this, higher offers from less qualified buyers were rejected and I have paid off all debts owed by the club and leave it financially strong and debt free for the first time since years before I owned it.”

The deal is subject to EFL approval and Donald has confirmed he has also put Eastleigh on the market.

He said in a statement: “With my potential involvement in Sunderland, it is a condition that I must relinquish control of Eastleigh. If the rules were different I would have loved to remain with the club for many years to come.”

The takeover came after Coleman left after the 47-year-old failed to stop the Black Cats slipping to successive relegations after they tumbled out of the Sky Bet Championship this month.

He replaced Simon Grayson in November but won just five of his 29 games, losing 16 times.

A Sunderland statement read: “A statement on the club’s official website read: “Sunderland AFC announces that manager Chris Coleman and his assistant Kit Symons have been released from their contracts.

“The club would like to place on record its sincere thanks to Chris and Kit for their tireless efforts in what has been a hugely disappointing season for everyone involved with the club.

“The club is unable to make further comment at this time.”

Coleman’s appointment in November was seen as a coup for the Black Cats after he left Wales to move to the Stadium of Light.

But he failed to halt the slide and relegation to the third tier for the first time in 30 years was confirmed after they lost 2-1 at home to Burton last weekend.