The Irish consortium bidding to take control of Aston Villa have indicated the next 48 hours are crucial to their hopes of succeeding.
Sources close to property developers the Comer Brothers and lifelong Villa fan Michael Neville are insisting the £64million deal is 'still alive'.
They have again insisted reports suggesting the takeover bid has collapsed are 'not true' and that talks are continuing with Villa chairman and major shareholder Doug Ellis.
But Villa have still to receive a concrete offer from the consortium amid speculation they need to find another £10million to meet Ellis's asking price.
Ellis, who has indicated a willingness to sell after two decades in charge of Villa, is understood to have reached the stage where privately - if not publicly - his stance is 'put up or shut up'.
A source close to the consortium insisted: 'The deal is still alive. Reports that the bid is off are not true but the next 48 hours are crucial.'
A Villa spokesman said today: 'We have not been informed of any change to the position. Our statement to the Stock Exchange still stands.'
In that statement before Christmas Villa confirmed they had received an initial approach and were in discussions as regards a possible takeover.
Ellis, 82, had told shareholders at October's annual general meeting he hoped to have some concrete proposals to put before them within a month.
The consortium had set their stall out to complete a deal before Christmas but the slow nature of events means Villa manager David O'Leary is unlikely to receive funds in time to be able to move into the transfer market during the January window.
• Wilfred Bouma has been told he will not require surgery to cure the knee injury sustained against Fulham at Craven Cottage during the festive season.
The Dutch international has been ruled out of the last three games and will also miss Saturday's home Premiership meeting with West Ham.
But Villa manager David O'Leary is hoping Bouma will be back available in two weeks' time which could make him available for the FA Cup fourth-round match with Port Vale on January 28.
O'Leary said: 'Bouma is still not right and he won't be in the frame for West Ham. He looks like he'll be out for another couple of weeks yet. But I've been told he won't need surgery or anything like that.'
• Villa's on loan Leeds midfielder Eirik Bakke has told David O'Leary he wants to remain with the midlands club for the remainder of the season.
Bakke's cut loan agreement runs out at the end of January and Villa are trying to reach agreement with Leeds to extend the stay until May.
The Norway international has become an integral part of O'Leary's plans after overcoming injury problems which blighted his past two seasons at Elland Road.
O'Leary said: 'I've said to the club I want to keep him until the end of the season. I don't know if other clubs are going to be looking at him.
'Eirik wants to stay. He's been into my office and said he doesn't want to go anywhere else for the rest of the season.
'I would say Leeds will wait until the very end of January to see if any offers come in for him but Eirik has told us he wants to stay here until the end of the season.'
O'Leary is putting any thoughts on whether Bakke could make a permanent switch to Villa in the summer on the back-burner for now.
He said: 'Personally I think Eirik needs this season to get himself completely right. I think by the end of the season, if he goes along the same way, he'll be a very attractive player for somebody to buy.
'I'm not even thinking about next season yet. I just want to secure him until the end of the season to be honest. I'll be happy to do that for now.'
O'Leary, meanwhile. has dismissed reports he could allow defender Ulises de la Cruz to leave on a free transfer during the January window.
The Ecuador international has made clear his desire to move for regular first-team football but Villa have yet to receive a bid for his services.
O'Leary said:: 'Ulises has a contract here until the end of the season. He was brought here for £1.5million. He says he'd like to play football. We're not standing in his way. We'll consider offers when they come in.
'Why would I give him a free transfer now? He's still got five months on his deal - half a season. We haven't exactly got a great deal of numbers.'