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Jun 14, 2011

McLeish set for Villa talks

Aston Villa have confirmed they will hold talks with former Birmingham City boss Alex McLeish "imminently" as they seek to appoint a new manager.

• Blues to demand £5.4m for McLeish
• Villa move for McLeish
• McLeish quits via e-mail

McLeish has been the favourite to take control at Villa Park since quitting their arch-rivals on Sunday and Villa now look set to controversially appoint the Scot as successor to Gerrard Houllier.

McLeish's exit from St Andrews was an acrimonious one and Birmingham announced on Tuesday night that they intend to lodge a formal complaint over what they deem the "tapping up'' of their manager.

"Birmingham City find Aston Villa's announcement today (Tuesday) to proceed with an interview with Alex McLeish a contempt of Premier League and FA rules," Blues said in a statement.

"The club feel this will taint football and give the game and the footballing authorities a bad name if this is allowed to materialise.

"The club will do what is within its powers to prevent this and will lodge a formal complaint to the authorities tomorrow (Wednesday) as there is now not the slightest doubt remaining about this tap-up attempt."

The League Managers' Association defended McLeish, claiming he walked out on Birmingham due to a disagreement over transfer policy and the sacking of his chief scout, not because of the vacant post at Villa.

LMA chief executive Richard Bevan said there had been "aggressive and seriously undermining communications" that had made McLeish's position untenable.

Birmingham dismissed the LMA's claims as "frivolous excuses without foundation" and insisted McLeish had been consulted with regards to the signing players and the dismissal of staff.

Meanwhile, the Aston Villa fans are also unhappy about McLeish joining the club. He may have lead arch-rivals Birmingham to Carling Cup success last season but he failed to keep them in the Premier League.

The Villa board are well aware of the ill feeling amongst the fans, but the club released a statement to insist the "high emotions'' surrounding the possible appointment of McLeish will not deter them if they feel he is the right candidate.

It read: "This is a message to the fans of Aston Villa. The club has been reluctant to elaborate publicly on our search for a new manager and, in particular, to confirm or deny our interest in specific candidates.

"This is not a new policy, indeed it is the approach that we have taken both in regard to managerial prospects, and potential player signings.

"The club understands that Alex McLeish is a free agent. We therefore intend to interview him imminently in order to make a decision regarding his candidacy to become Villa manager.

"From the beginning of our search, we have set out criteria based on proven Premier League experience, compelling leadership, an ethic for hard work and, most importantly, sharing our vision for Aston Villa as we know that without a shared vision any appointment, however attractive, will ultimately fail.

"We would, however, like to emphasise that in deciding to interview Alex McLeish, the board has taken his tenure at our local rivals and the strong emotions associated with this very seriously.

"We are determined, still, not to allow that three-and-a-half year post to disqualify him should he be the best candidate for the role of Aston Villa manager."

Earlier on Tuesday, Birmingham's acting chairman Peter Pannu insisted his club would demand full compensation of £5.4 million if McLeish moves across the city.

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