Sunderland have been given permission to speak to St Mirren boss Jack Ross about the managerial vacancy at the Stadium of Light, the Scottish club has confirmed.
Ross has emerged as the leading candidate to replace Chris Coleman on Wearside in recent days and new owner Stewart Donald has now made his move.
A statement issued via the Saints’ official website, www.stmirren.com, said: “St Mirren Football Club can confirm we received a formal approach from Sunderland AFC this afternoon for permission to speak to our manager Jack Ross.
“After agreeing to our terms, we have reluctantly given them permission to speak to Jack about their vacant manager’s position.”
Donald, who met the media for the first time on Monday afternoon, also confirmed that progress had been made via his Twitter account.
He tweeted: “I said in the press conference we would hopefully have our man by the weekend. The update is we have agreed terms and as I said, it is with the legals now. By close of play tomorrow, I would hope to make an announcement. All on course.”
Donald had revealed in a radio interview on Wednesday morning that he had agreed a deal with a candidate and was awaiting formal completion.
But as reports emerged that Ross was the man in question, Saints chairman Gordon Scott insisted there had been no contact from the Wearside club.
He told Press Association Sport: “There has been no contact from Sunderland with us and Jack is on holiday, so unless there is some major skulduggery going on, then it’s nonsense.
“To hold talks with Jack, we would have to grant permission, as has been the case with Ipswich and Barnsley recently. But we’ve had no contact from Sunderland at all.”
However, contact has now been made and Donald will hope to make swift progress after expressing his desire to have his manager in place by the end of the day.
Earlier, he had told talkSPORT: “We’ve agreed terms and literally the contracts are with the lawyers. The man in question is absolutely thrilled, which is what we want, and I’m absolutely delighted that he’s coming, so that’s exciting for us.
“I’m hoping that by the end of the day, we can reveal that.”
Asked if Coleman’s replacement would excite fans who have seen their club suffer successive relegations to begin life in League One next season, Donald replied: “I think so – well, it’s got me really excited, I’ve absolutely been jumping up and down this morning.”
Ross, 41, guided St Mirren to the Ladbrokes Championship title last season and was named PFA Scotland Manager of the Year ahead of Celtic’s Brendan Rodgers.
St Mirren had offered him a new deal in a bid to keep him at the club, but the lure of a move south of the border, where he played for Hartlepool for a season, seems to have proved too tempting to reject.
If the formalities are completed, Ross will become the 11th permanent Sunderland manager to take charge in the last nine years and the first since Ellis Short sold the club to Donald.
He would face the initial task of rebuilding a squad which has suffered successive relegations and will begin life in League One at the start of next season with the overriding aim of making an immediate return to the Sky Bet Championship on a budget, but one the new owner is convinced will be more than competitive.