Sunderland release open letter to supporters after 'devastating' relegation to League One is confirmed
Sunderland have said "there remains a burning desire from within to rebuild and reinvigorate the club" following their relegation to Sky Bet League One.
The Black Cats have suffered back-to-back relegations following their 2-1 defeat to fellow strugglers Burton on Saturday.
And hours after their fate was sealed, the club issued a statement claiming they "will rise again".
The statement read: "Confirmation of relegation has been the culmination of what has been a demoralising season for everyone.
"We began the campaign realistic in the knowledge that with the backdrop of relegation from the Premier League and our financial position, it would be a significant challenge to make an immediate return to the top flight. However, it was not envisaged nor expected that we would subsequently be facing the prospect of League One football, which makes this position all the harder to take.
"Despite the difficulties we have faced, our fans have been a shining light. They have continued to back the team in their thousands, which has been incredibly humbling to see. We are truly sorry that we have not been able to give them the positive outcome such tremendous support deserves.
"This is also a huge blow for our staff, who have worked tirelessly throughout the season under testing circumstances and uncertainty. We applaud them for their resilience and dedication. They are fans of the club too and like our supporters, they are hurting.
"Whilst naturally we feel devastated today, there remains a burning desire from within to rebuild and reinvigorate the club.
"As we look at how to best achieve this, it must be recognised that we are in a period of uncertainty in relation to the club's future ownership and the resolution of this will be the driving factor in how we move forward.
"Sunderland AFC is so much more than a football club. It is an institution that has been at the very heart of its city and community for almost 140 years.
"It is built on a deep-rooted passion that is proudly passed from generation to generation and it is this enduring and unwavering passion that gives us the strength and fortitude we need in times of challenge.
"It is through the unstinting support of our fans that Sunderland AFC will rise again."