Sunderland have confirmed they are in talks with several parties over a possible takeover of the club.
Owner Ellis Short has made no secret of his desire to sell his 100 per cent stake and it has been reported he was in advanced talks with a mystery German consortium.
But the north-east club have revealed if the sale is not completed within a “defined time frame”, Short will pull out of negotiations and press on with plans for next season.
The Sky Bet Championship club said their search for a new manager had been affected by the uncertainty over its ownership.
Derek McInnes has turned down the chance to replace David Moyes after talks, announcing his decision to remain at Aberdeen on Thursday.
“Since the end of the season, our focus has been to appoint a new manager,” a Sunderland statement read.
“Recently, however, discussions have been entered into with parties who have expressed an interest in acquiring ownership of the club.
“With this backdrop, we have been unable to give the assurances any potential candidate would need regarding the plans a new owner could have for the manager’s position.
“The recruitment process, whilst still very much active, cannot therefore be concluded imminently.
“In talking to parties who have shown interest in acquiring the club, owner Ellis Short is determined to make sure that the best interests of Sunderland AFC are at the heart of any decision regarding its future.
“We are of course acutely aware of the need to act swiftly to appoint a manager and, to ensure that this is the case, have placed a time limit on discussions regarding a potential sale.
“If discussions are not concluded within our defined time frame, we will terminate the process and move swiftly and positively forward with plans for the new season.
“Detailed pre-season preparations are already in place and our aim is to do everything we can to ensure Sunderland’s return to the top flight.”
Consortiums from China and the Middle East have previously shown interest in taking over the club, but failed to make formal offers.
Preston boss Simon Grayson, Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder and former striker Kevin Phillips remain in the frame to succeed Moyes.
Sky sources understand first team coach Robbie Stockdale will take charge when the players return for pre-season on June 29 if an appointment hasn’t been made by that point