Privately-owned retailer Hargreaves Sports and Scottish store group Original Shoe Company are the two front-runners to buy Sports Connection, according to industry sources.
Sports Connection managing director Paul Stern is understood to have failed in his bid to stage a management buy-out of the business, which is in receivership.
Sports Connection's receiver, KPMG, confirmed discussions are ongoing with a preferred bidder and it is hoped a deal can be concluded within a few days.
Three years ago, Hargreaves Sports bought 21 stores from the receivers of Terry Warner Sports and Original Shoe Company bought 12 Jeanster stores from administrators.
A Hargreaves spokesman said he was unable to comment.