Ex-EPL club Sunderland set for new owner

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Former English Premier League club Sunderland have reached an agreement with Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, whose family previously owned French team Marseille, to take control of the third-tier Black Cats .

Louis-Dreyfus, who is in his early 20s, will become chairman of the League One team "early in the New Year," subject to approval from the English Football League, Sunderland said on Thursday.

"Documentation relating to the deal has been lodged today with the EFL for their scrutiny, and the club recognises that the EFL need to approve all aspects of the transaction and business plan going forward before any change of control," the club said. "Given the time of year, that process is not expected to conclude until mid-January."

Louis-Dreyfus' family founded the Swiss-based Louis-Dreyfus group in the 19th century and owned Marseille for almost 20 years before selling the club in 2016.

"Many will be aware of my family connections to the industry and, in acquiring Sunderland AFC, I understand the responsibility that's placed upon me as the custodian of the club's future," Kyril Louis-Dreyfus said in a statement.

Majority owner Stewart Donald had announced in July he wanted to sell.

Donald said he agreed to sell his controlling interest to Louis-Dreyfus despite higher offers from other bidders.

"I felt that they offered less to the club and to the community," Donald said in his joint statement with Louis-Dreyfus.

"Whereas from the early meetings with Kyril, his family and advisers, I have been greatly impressed with their knowledge and understanding, learned over a long period as owners of major football clubs in Belgium and France.

"I believe that experience, combined with a good plan, will provide a platform for the club to progress and I look forward to watching that progress from afar."

The club's recent misfortunes have been documented in the Netflix series "Sunderland 'Til I Die," which detailed the team's tumble from the Premier League, to the Championship and finally to the third tier.

Sunderland are currently 11th with 28 points from 17 games.