SUNDERLAND have achieved a major breakthrough in their pursuit of managerial target Derek McInnes after they were given permission to speak to the current Aberdeen boss.
It was on Wednesday that Aberdeen confirmed they had "reluctantly" granted permission for McInnes and Docherty to speak to Sunderland.
However, that situation changed when Black Cats chief executive Martin Bain agreed to pay around £1m to release McInnes from the remaining two years of his contract at Pittodrie.
Assistant manager Tony Docherty will also return to the Dons, the club said.
SUNDERLAND are set to hold personal talks with Derek McInnes within the next 24 hours after a compensation package was agreed with Aberdeen.
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"It is now up to all of us, the board, staff, players and supporters to show how much we appreciate having him at the helm by getting right behind him in every way possible".
Last season McInnes guided Aberdeen to second place in the top flight - and to the Scottish Cup final.
"Since the first day I arrived at Pittodrie, my biggest gripe has been the lack of training facilities and, with progress at last on that front, it's something I am keen to see through to its conclusion".
That now seems unlikely with the Dons, who have been bracing themselves for McInnes's departure for a number of weeks, seemingly accepting defeat.
"Aberdeen will be making no further comment".
Other names linked with the vacancy are Simon Grayson, Billy Davies and Sunderland hero Kevin Phillips.