Villa in fight with Blues over McLeish
aston villa and Birmingham City were at loggerheads last night over Alex McLeish after Villa told their city rivals they were entitled to talk to the Scot about their vacant manager's job and the Blues responded by threatening to take the issue to a Premier League commission.
The Villa hierarchy have told officials at Birmingham that they believed they were free to approach McLeish over the possibility of appointing him because of his resignation last Sunday. In response, Birmingham told Villa that they intended to sue for full compensation for the Scot under the terms of the remaining two years of his contract.
It's understood that there was a sharp exchange of email correspondence between the two clubs' legal departments yesterday, with Villa claiming that, because McLeish had walked away from his job, he was effectively a free agent.
Birmingham acting chairman Peter Pannu responded by telling Villa that he was prepared to take up the issue with the Premier League if Villa were not willing to pay compensation.
Under the terms of his contract with Birmingham, the club are due £5m compensation if McLeish joins another club before June 30.
That figure falls to around £2.5m if he were to leave next month, in the final year of his deal. Privately, Birmingham have expressed astonishment that Villa and McLeish were not prepared to wait 15 days in order for the compensation costs to drop.
That McLeish has walked out of Birmingham so quickly is an indicator of the urgency with which Villa now want to get their pursuit of a successor to Gerard Houllier resolved. Having got cold feet over both Mark Hughes and Steve McClaren and then having been rejected by Roberto Martinez, the episode now looks farcical.
Despite the impasse, the bookmakers have installed Portsmouth manager Steve Cotterill as favourite to succeed McLeish at Birmingham.
Other candidates include former Nottingham Forest boss Billy Davies, sacked over the weekend, as well as Chris Hughton and Alan Curbishley. (© Independent News Service)
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