Former Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has claimed that the only way the club will return to a "fit state" is if owner Ellis Short finally sells up.
The Black Cats' downwards spiral shows no sign of stopping, as they find themselves bottom of the Championship table and at serious risk of back-to-back relegations.
Sunderland have won just seven of their 54 league matches since Allardyce departed in July 2016, stepping down from his position after guiding the North-East outfit to top-flight survival.
Allardyce believes that the key to returning to the big time comes down to off-field matters, with the club in desperate need of a new man at the top to freshen things up.
"To get Sunderland back into a fit state, the club needs to be sold," the Sunderland Echo quotes him as saying. "I think Ellis Short was fine while I was there, but it's obvious he's had enough. He's pumped so much money into the club and I don't believe he wants to risk any more of his cash. They find themselves at the wrong end of the Championship table, they've sacked another manager – Simon Grayson – but the rot had set in at Sunderland and it's very difficult to manage a club when they're in that position.
"It's even harder to overcome it and get a team back into the right direction. So maybe, at this stage, a new owner is what's left to change and should get them back on the right track at this period in the club's history. It's so tragic what's going on at Sunderland at the minute. Especially for me, thinking that I left that club after saving them from a relegation fight.
"The fight for me in my time at the club was trying to convince the owner this really couldn't happen again. It was the fifth time they'd been in that position and, in my experience over many, many years as a manager, it was me trying to say that a relegation fight shouldn't be happening again.
"But before I got the chance to put that into action, I'd obviously left. Honestly, when David Moyes came in after me, I genuinely thought he could carry it on. He's a good friend of mine and a great manager. But, unfortunately, right from when he came in, things didn't go well. Sunderland have never recovered from that."
American businessman Short attempted to offload the club earlier this year, but he failed to strike a deal despite slashing his asking price.