Birmingham City will today invoke a get-out clause in Alex McLeish's contract to allow them to open negotiations with the Scotland manager over the vacant hot seat at St Andrew's.
Blues yesterday approached the Scottish Football Association for permission to speak to the former Rangers and Hibernian boss but had their advances rebuffed.
However, McLeish, who guided his national team to within one match of qualifying for Euro 2008, has in his deal with the governing body an agreement that he can leave if a Premier League club are prepared to pay the requisite amount of compensation.
With two years left on a contract worth £400,000 a year, that means Birmingham could secure the services of a recognised international manager for well under £1 million - three times less than they received from Wigan Athletic for Steve Bruce.
Although City are saying nothing officially McLeish has emerged as clear front-runner in the race to replace Bruce, who took his predictable parting shot when he was unveiled at the JJB Stadium on Monday, and it seems likely that Bruce's former assistant Eric Black will also move north.
McLeish could be in place by tomorrow, if talks go well. He returns from the World Cup draw in South Africa early this morning and could even open negotiations as soon as he lands in London.
Given the amount of money Birmingham received for Bruce and the fact the former manager earned nearly twice what McLeish was paid with Scotland, talks should go relatively smoothly.
The only things concerning the Scot would be the uncertainty created by Carson Yeung's takeover and Birmingham's relatively poor league position, only a point above the relegation zone.
But the lure of returning to club management and the prospect of doing so in the Premier League will also have significant impact on McLeish's thinking.
However, Birmingham must first navigate their way past Gordon Smith, chief executive of the SFA, who expressed his desire to hold on to his manager.
Smith said: "We have been approached but I do not want to discuss it at all. The club involved has been advised they cannot speak to Alex at the moment. We are looking to keep hold of Alex and have discussed the possibility of extending his contract so hopefully we can keep him here as long as possible."
It is likely the talk of a new contract is little more than a negotiating tactic and Smith knows privately that McLeish's contract allows him to talk to Birmingham under certain circumstances.
Birmingham hope to have the new man in place before Sunday's match at Tottenham Hotspur, a venue where they have not won in the league for 23 years.
After that McLeish would have an inviting run of games with which to build some momentum before the January transfer window. Blues visit Newcastle United the following week and then meet Reading, Bolton Wanderers, Middlesbrough and Fulham before the New Year.
With regards to Yeung's proposed takeover Birmingham are determined to find out once and for all whether he can raise the funds to buy out current chairman David Gold and co-owner David Sullivan.
Yeung has until Friday to convince the long-serving partners he can come up with the £35 million required for the takeover by the December 20 deadline set by Sullivan.
Gold claimed over the weekend that the chances of Hong Kong businessman Yeung taking control were "diminishing."