Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn is confident manager Roy Keane will sign a new contract within weeks.
The Black Cats boss embarked upon the final year of his current three-year deal at the start of the new season, but has repeatedly insisted he is relaxed about the future.
However, Quinn today revealed initial talks with Keane's solicitor, Michael Kennedy, began last week after funding for the next two years was secured, and he is optimistic of a positive outcome in the near future.
Quinn said: ''We have just opened up negotiations with Roy's solicitor last week, and that will move along nicely, I hope.
''You never know, we will see, but I am pretty confident we will have something nice to say in the next few weeks.
''I didn't want to go to Roy Keane with a new contract offer when I couldn't tell him what was happening in 12 months' time, because the minimum contract would have been a year.
''Now hopefully this year, we will be okay and maybe a couple after. I don't know. We haven't quite got to the detail, but I am pretty pleased. The great thing about Roy is you are not sitting in here with a big agent talking about money, it's about direction.
''That's the biggest thing in the contract talks, and I am confident that on my side of the table, we have got the direction that will please him. That's become apparent in the last week or so, and we will kick on from there.
''It will be a great day if he does sign. It will be a big day for him as a manager too. It takes a bit of time and there are a few dots on the i's and crosses on the t's.
''Hopefully that's what it is, but I will keep you posted.''
A confidentiality agreement prevented Quinn from commenting on reports that Irish-American businessman Ellis Short has acquired a 30 per cent stake in Drumaville, the consortium which owns the club, and that it is his financial muscle which has allowed the Wearsiders to present Keane with a two-year blueprint.
However, as chaos reigns at neighbouring Newcastle following Kevin Keegan's resignation over claims of interference from Board level, the chairman confirmed his manager has no worries on that front.
He said: ''We won't put any restrictions on Roy. He is very aware of the power he has in bringing people to the club, and he will just get our backing to do that.
''He has appointed scouts in 13 countries since we came, which is a big change from where we were two and a bit years ago. Slowly but surely, every aspect of the club is going that way.
''He has got the power to appoint scouts, he has got the power to name and choose the players we go after.
''He is the manager in every sense of the word and the fact now that we have a two and a half-year business plan, it is the right and correct time to ask him to commit.''
Quinn's comments came as he joined forces with Gina Carter, the widow of former Sunderland goalkeeper Tim Carter, at the launch of an appeal to raise £1.2million to build a hydrotherapy pool at the Percy Hedley School in Newcastle.
Carter, whose four-year-old son Jensen attends the special school for children and adults with cerebral palsy, died earlier this year at the age of 40.
Mrs Carter said: ''Tim would have been very proud and very humble that people thought so highly of him.
''It was a big passion in Tim's heart and to have such a centre built in his name will be tremendous.''