Steve Bruce was last night waiting to hear if he would be granted permission to speak to Wigan Athletic with regard to their vacant manager's position.
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan asked Birmingham City if they would allow him to open negotiations with Bruce yesterday morning, but had not received a reply by the close of business.
Whelan's counterparts at St Andrew's, David Gold and David Sullivan, initially rejected Wigan's approach but they were thought to be ready to reconsider if Bruce wanted to end his six-year tenure.
Sources close to Bruce claim the manager would like to at least meet with Whelan given his current situation with Blues, in which he has become increasingly frustrated at the club's inability to finalise a new contract - despite the fact that one was agreed in the summer.
Most of the delay has arisen through the fact that Birmingham are in the throes of being taken over by Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung who, when he met Bruce after the victory over Wigan three weeks ago, said a new deal could not be finalised until his own purchase had gone through.
That could take until the end of the year; even then, the 46-year-old's position might not be secure. While his meeting with Yeung was described as positive, guarantees about a new contract were conspicuous by their absence as were concrete figures about how much he would be allowed to spend in the transfer window.
While most other managers are planning strategy and identifying targets, Bruce confessed last week to be hamstrung by the lack of communication. Considering that, and the fact that he could be out of a job by January, it is only natural he would want to talk to employers who could offer a more secure situation.
It would be a familiar one. Bruce and Whelan have worked together before, for eight weeks during 2001 when he had been sacked by Huddersfield Town.
During his short spell in charge, before he moved to Crystal Palace, Bruce masterminded three victories from eight games and helped the club into the Division Two play-offs where they lost to Reading.
Yet while the seat may be less hot than at St Andrew's, Wigan's Premiership position is more perilous than Birmingham's. While Blues stand three points clear of the relegation zone, Wigan are second-bottom with only two wins all season.
Speaking on national radio last night, Whelan confirmed: "We have asked permission to speak to Steve. We asked in the morning and I do not think we have heard an answer. We are still waiting for permission from Birmingham.
"Steve Bruce has worked with me before. He was with me at Wigan for two months a few years ago and did a super job here.
"I know he is in a bit of a situation with Birmingham where the Chinese people are supposed to be taking over but they have not given him a contract or extended his contract which is running out - so obviously, he is a candidate for us.
"It all depends on Birmingham. If they give us permission we will talk to him. If they say 'sorry' then he is still under contract and we have to abide by that."
It is the third time in three years that another Premiership club has asked to speak to Bruce and each time he has remained loyal to St Andrew's and the board that has supported him so well.
In 2004, having guided Birmingham to top-flight safety, Newcastle United identified him as the man to take them forward. Though he was tempted, he chose to see through his work with Blues.
Only a month ago, Birmingham were approached by Bolton Wanderers after the Lancastrians sacked Sammy Lee. The move was perfect timing for Bruce, who was able to demonstrate his loyalty to Yeung by accepting the board's decision to reject Bolton's approach.
They may be tempted to accept this enquiry, however. There is every likelihood that Yeung will want to install his own man and a management vacancy would make that considerably easier.
It might be a good move for Bruce. Whelan has already spoken to Paul Jewell, who left at the end of last term and made what Jewell described as 'an unbelievable offer' - believed to be in the region of a £2 million signing bonus and £50,000 a week.