Sunderland in Quinn talks

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Sunderland confirmed last night that they have entered into talks with a consortium headed by their former striker Niall Quinn.

The club announced to the Stock Exchange that discussions over a proposed takeover bid were under way. A club statement read: "Further to the announcement on 28 March 2006 by Bob Murray, chairman and controlling shareholder of the company, stating he would be willing to consider a change of control of the company, the board of Sunderland Limited confirms that it is in discussions with a consortium of private investors led by Niall Quinn that may or may not lead to an offer for the company being made."

The former Republic of Ireland international confirmed last week, after months of speculation, that he was putting together a consortium to make a bid for the club. However, he had previously said that no approach would be made until all the arrangements were in place to put a genuine proposal to Murray.

Rumours have been rife of a takeover bid headed by Quinn, although the detail remains private. There have been suggestions that a successful buy-out would see the club's £40m debts cleared and an injection of £20m into the playing staff.

Despite delisting from the Stock Exchange, the rules mean the club must inform its shareholders of any developments as if it remained a plc. However, the legions of fans who have continued to turn up in their numbers throughout a desperate season will hope Quinn's move is decisive.