Birmingham City have rejected an approach from Wigan Athletic to speak to Steve Bruce about succeeding Chris Hutchings as manager of the Premier League strugglers.
Blues chairman David Gold said that he would be 'devastated' if Bruce left, and that they 'would do everything in their power' to keep him at the club.
Bruce has been at St Andrews since December 2001 and has twice led the Blues to promotion to the Premier League.
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan confirmed his interest and said: 'Steve Bruce has worked with me before, he was with me at Wigan five or six years ago for two months and did a super job then.'
Bruce is in a state of limbo at Birmingham at present after prospective new owner Carson Yeung declined to sanction the new contract he had agreed with Gold and Sullivan during the summer.
Bruce is aware he could be out of a job in January should the takeover by the Hong Kong businessman go ahead.
He held what were described as 'positive talks' with Yeung a fortnight ago after the home 3-2 win against Wigan.
But he admitted before the derby against Aston Villa that he has no idea what his transfer budget will be in January when he strives to strengthen the current squad during their battle to stay in the top flight.
Whelan told the BBC: 'I know there is a bit of a situation at Birmingham where the Chinese people are supposed to be taking over, they will not give Steve Bruce an answer (and) they will not extend his contract which is running out, so obviously he was a candidate for us.'
Bruce has enjoyed a close working relationship with Gold and Sullivan, declining the Newcastle job three years ago and then being backed by the club's owners midway through last season when his future looked in doubt because of poor results.
But the uncertainty over whether he has a long-term future at City may force him to reluctantly look elsewhere.
Bruce was unavailable for comment.