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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Aston Villa to appoint McLeish as manager on Friday

Aston Villa are set to appoint Alex McLeish as their new manager on Friday morning after concluding lengthy talks, BBC Sport understands.

It was expected the announcement would happen on Thursday but the decision has now been put back a day with just the formalities to be completed.

McLeish resigned as manager of local rivals Birmingham City on Sunday.

City are expected to pursue a compensation claim against Villa's approach of their former manager.

Blues had initially demanded £5.4m to cover the remaining two-and-a-quarter years of McLeish's contract.

The Scot's imminent appointment has not been met with approval from some Villa fans with about 500 fans gathered outside Villa Park on Wednesday to protest.

"They gathered at North Stand just before 1700 BST then they moved onto Holte End," said BBC 5 live reporter Phil Mackie. "At 1900 BST they moved back to North Stand, broke through gates and sat on steps. It was fairly good-natured."

McLeish left his holiday in Corsica and returned to England to hold talks with Lerner on Wednesday, with a source at Villa telling the Press Association that they had been positive and productive.

On Tuesday, Villa released a statement which said: "The club understands that Alex McLeish is a free agent. We therefore intend to interview him imminently."

Responding to Villa's announcement, Birmingham released their own statement, accusing their neighbours of "tapping up" McLeish.

The 52-year-old Scot resigned less than one month after narrowly missing out on securing the club's Premier League status.

Blues are unhappy with Villa's decision to meet their former boss, describing their rival's announcement to proceed with an interview was "a contempt of Premier League and FA rules".

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

"We will lodge a formal complaint as there is now not the slightest doubt remaining about this tap-up attempt.

"This conduct, if condoned, will open up floodgates and set a very bad precedent. It is also an attack against the intelligence and integrity of not only the Villa fans, but most importantly our fans who are badly let down after relegation."

However, Villa, who have been without a permanent boss since the end of April when Gerard Houllier suffered ill health, believe they have taken fans' feelings into account.

"In deciding to interview McLeish, the board has taken his tenure at our local rivals and the strong emotions associated with this very seriously," the Villa statement added.

On 10 June, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez turned down the chance to manage Villa, having been given permission to talk to the Midlands outfit by his club.

Steve McClaren, now in charge at Nottingham Forest, and former Fulham boss Mark Hughes are two others who have been linked with the position.

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