Aberdeen have given Sunderland permission to open negotiations with Derek McInnes as they look to appoint him manager, the Scottish club confirmed.
The Black Cats are looking to appoint the successor to David Moyes as they prepare for life in the Championship, having finished bottom in the Premier League last season.
After making an approach to Aberdeen for their manager and assistant Tony Docherty, Sunderland look to have found their man.
"The club can confirm that early this afternoon Sunderland agreed to meet all the contractual obligations for both Derek McInnes and Tony Docherty and they have, reluctantly, been granted permission to speak with both of them about the vacant managerial position at Sunderland," a statement on their website read.
McInnes, 45, who previously managed St Johnstone and Bristol City, spent four years with the Scottish Premiership team and guided them to a first trophy in 18 years in the 2013-14 League Cup.
The Dons finished second in the top flight in 2016-17, 30 points behind champions Celtic.