Those Birmingham City supporters who have been waiting three months to vent their anger at Robbie Savage following his defection to Blackburn Rovers will have to hold their tongues until next season.
The controversial midfielder will not be in the visitors? squad tomorrow.
Savage ? s successful attempt to engineer at lucrative transfer to Ewood Park in the January transfer window was greeted with disgust and dismay by many Bluesnoses and the Welsh international quickly went from hero to villain in most supporters? eyes.
With Rovers due at St Andrew?s, the midfielder, who was Blues supporters? player of the year in 2002-2003, would have been guaranteed a hostile reception.
But Savage will play no in the game after Rovers manager Mark Hughes last night revealed details of a gentleman?s agreement between Blues and Blackburn which was part of Savage?s #3 million switch.
No such agreement was thought to exist and it is against Premier League regulations to insert a clause insisting players cannot play against their old clubs following a transfer.
However Blues appear to be anxious that Savage, who was doubtful anyway because of his on-going groin problems, does not line up against them and they have insisted Blackburn stick to their part of the deal.
Hughes said: ?I have been told that at the time of his transfer there was an understanding between the two clubs that Sav wouldn?t take part in the fixture against his old club so he won?t be involved.
?There was nothing in the contract, it?s an understanding. It?s of no significance really because if situations were different and we were still down the bottom of the table then maybe we would have argued the case a little more strongly.
?I think an approach has already been made this week to Birmingham about the situation but there wasn?t a very positive reaction.
?It was done at the time of the transfer to make it go through and we agreed then so we will stand by that. It may change in the next 24 hours but I?m not holding my breath.
?It?s always interesting to go back to your old club but if it?s not to be this time there?s always next year.?
When the news broke last night of the agreement between Blues and Blackburn about Savage, some observers speculated it was done to prevent Savage inciting crowd trouble which might get the hosts into trouble with the Football Association again.
Blues were fined #25,000 in December 2002 after being charged with ?failure to ensure the proper conduct of spectators? following their 3-0 derby victory over Aston Villa at St Andrew?s two months earlier.
However the FA have confirmed there is no suspended sentence hanging over Birmingham from that match and the decision to prevent Savage from returning to his old stomping ground appears to be for purely footballing reasons.
As it happens, Blues? fears of Savage returning to haunt them on the pitch would probably have been unfounded.
The midfielder has not yet managed to replicate the inspirational form of his Birmingham days at Blackburn and Hughes says Savage has been injured a lot.
Hughes added: ?He?s struggled with injuries which have held him back but when he has been on the field he has had an impact.
?He?s slowly getting back to the level we know he can be; midweek against West Bromwich Albion was one of his better games.
?Hopefully, next year he will be fitter and stronger, have had a full pre-season, and we will see the real Robbie Savage.?
Meanwhile, Birmingham announced yesterday they will play two two friendly
games in Spain as part of their pre-season programme.
Blues, who have already confirmed plans to play three games in Norway between July 13-19, will take on Deportivo La Coruna and another Spanish side on August 5/6 as part of the loan deal for Walter Pandiani. n Former Blues defender Andy Legg has been forced to retire from the game after a tumour on his neck was found to be cancerous.
The 38-year-old Peterborough full-back must now undergo a scan to determine whether the cancer has spread, but Legg has been told by doctors that he will never be fit enough to play again.
Posh boss Barry Fry said: ?Andy has been told there?s a good chance the cancer may have spread, so he has been advised to give up playing football.
?It?s a terrible end to a glorious career.?