Alex McLeish could cost Aston Villa £5m

ASTON Villa have approached city rivals Birmingham to ask about the legal situation regarding Alex McLeish after the Scot quit his job as manager. However, the Blues' acting chairman, Peter Pannu, spent the day talking to lawyers and the club are going to demand £5 million in compensation.

The contact from Villa was not an official approach, but it can be disclosed that an email was sent to Birmingham seeking clarification about McLeish's status.

McLeish - who had two years remaining on his contract at St Andrew's - announced his resignation via an email on Sunday and the Scot was immediately linked with a move to the vacant manager's post at Villa Park. Bookmakers make him the odds-on favourite to controversially switch to Birmingham's arch-rivals.

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Pannu made his dissatisfaction clear at the manner of McLeish's departure, and promised to put up a fight to stop the former Motherwell, Hibernian, Rangers and Scotland manager moving on.

Pannu said: "He is still our contracted staff and Birmingham City FC does not grant him any right to speak to any outsiders until the matter is resolved. It's about time discipline is instilled into this game and I am not a person who gets pushed about."

McLeish quit as manager in an email sent to Pannu, who was negotiating the signing of Danny Koevermans from PSV Eindhoven. After agreeing deals for Marlon King, Chris Burke and Morgaro Gomis, Pannu was fully expecting McLeish to stay on at St Andrew's for Birmingham's first season back in the npower Championship following their relegation.

Pannu was particularly irked to see the 52-year-old depart, after he and owner Carson Yeung pledged their support in the wake of the drop from the Barclays Premier League.

Pannu said: "I have just bought him (McLeish] three players of his choice. Having secured him the fourth one, Koevermans, I get an email on Sunday. It speaks volumes. We spent 40million, supported McLeish all the way, and what we get is a relegation and a snub when Carson gave him unwavering support."

McLeish led Birmingham to Carling Cup final glory last season but their form in the Premier League dipped following their Wembley success, culminating in relegation. Meanwhile Graham Taylor, twice manager of Villa in the past, criticised his former club for the way they have gone about seeking a replacement for Gerard Houllier, who stepped down due to illness.

He told BBC Sport: "It just doesn't appear to have been thought through. When Gerard became ill it must have occurred to them that he may not come back, even if the signs were that he may have returned. This is not being disrespectful to Gerard in any way, but once he became unwell then you have to immediately start exploring what you might do if he does not come back." But Taylor believes McLeish will deal with potential opposition from Villa fans and anger from Blues supporters. He added: "I think Alex has the strength of character but it won't be easy for him. He has a hardness about him. It would be difficult though, because many Villa fans would not want a Birmingham man as their manager and many Birmingham supporters might see him as a traitor. He is a strong man though, and I think he could cope with that."

Within 24 hours of McLeish's announcement, nearly 6,000 people signed up to a Facebook page entitled 'Aston Villa Supporters - We don't want Alex McLeish'.