Sunderland have made significant inroads in their search for a new manager, with Derek McInnes now the overwhelming favourite.
Chief executive Martin Bain formally approached Aberdeen yesterday and began negotiations to complete a deal.
The Pittodrie outfit believe they are due compensation of around £1.2million to release McInnes, and his assistant Tony Docherty, from the remainder of his contract.
Docherty has worked with 45-year-old McInnes at St Johnstone, Bristol City and Aberdeen.
Aberdeen’s board were due to meet last night, with McInnes’s future top of the agenda. Privately, the directors are understood to have been preparing for his departure for some weeks now, anticipating Bain’s approach.
However, Sunderland do still face one more hurdle should they agree a package acceptable to the Dons’ hierarchy.
The Black Cats will still have to agree personal terms with McInnes, who will seek further assurances regarding the size of the budget he will have available to him and the situation at the club.
Whoever succeeds David Moyes will be unlikely to have the full £30million generated from the likely sale of Jordan Pickford to Everton, as the club seek to adjust to the significantly reduced revenues of the Championship.
They will also have to make quick decisions on the future of a number of other players in the squad.
Sweden midfielder Seb Larsson, for example, is thought to have been offered a new deal by the club, but the Black Cats now face competition from Turkish side Trabzonspor to secure his future.
Larsson’s agent has confirmed the interest from Turkey as well as China, though the former Birmingham City and Arsenal midfielder, 32, is known to prefer extending his stay in the UK, if possible.