The prospect of Martin O'Neill being attracted to Aston Villa has moved a step closer after it was revealed that the club's prospective purchasers are just as keen as the present boar-doom set-up in having the Ulsterman in charge.
O'Neill (pictured), who has already turned down Newcastle United and Middlesbrough to return to management this year, is known to favour the chance to turn around Villa's fortunes.
The outspoken O'Neill is reportedly keen on making the West Midlands the scene of his return to football only if Doug Ellis sells up. But, at a time when he has confirmed that he has revived his own consortium's bid to buy the club, local businessman Michael Neville has now revealed that he is a fan of O'Neill's too.
Whether it is Ellis, Neville or whoever at the helm, Villa would look to O'Neill to recreate the success he has had over the last decade, first at Leicester City and Celtic by bringing great nights back to Villa Park.
At Leicester, a club of limited resources, promotion to the Premiership for O'Neill was followed by four successive top-10 Premiership finishes, along with two League Cup triumphs and another final appearance. And, when he moved to Scotland, he kept things rolling along, breaking Rangers' Glasgow strangle-hold by winning the Treble in his first season, then guiding Celtic to the UEFA Cup final, where they were beaten only by Jose Mourinho's Porto.
And Neville admits: "It would be fantastic to have Martin O'Neill. Any club that has him on board would be very fortunate."
If Villa are to make an approach for O'Neill, that will have to happen soon if he is to be installed in time for the first team's three-match pre-season tour of Holland and Germany in a fortnight's time.
With that in mind, Ellis is believed to be meeting with O'Neil in the next two days.
In the wake of the abuse he came in for during Friday night's friendly win at neighbours Walsall, it would appear that a quick end could also now be in sight to Ellis's long battle to attract new owners.
Despite having so failed to make an offer during 10 months of confusing negotiations involving the Irish-based Comer Brothers, Erdington-born, lifelong Villa fan Neville is now insistent that he has new backers in his bid to buy the club from Ellis.
"Villa fans must be fed up with hearing my name associated with a takeover," said Neville. "And, if I can't make it work this time, then I can't make it work at all.
"The timescale is short. And if anything is going to happen, it would have to happen soon. But I have accelerated my efforts to make a bid for Aston Villa. I believe I have backers but cannot reveal any more.
"This is an exciting prospect, the result of a year's work for me. But I have the best interests of Aston Villa at heart."
One piece of business unlikely to happen, especially now that O'Leary has gone, is Gareth Barry's planned move to Portsmouth.
Pompey are now pondering whether to proceed with a second bid after failing with what is understood to be a #4.5million offer for the former England man.
Manager Harry Redknapp said: "Gareth Barry is a talented player and we placed a bid with Villa.
"They turned it down because he is someone they want to keep. But I don't know if the situation will be different now David O'Leary has been sacked."