Alex McLeish safe but warned he must win promotion

Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish has been told his own job is safe following relegation from the Barclays Premier League, but he has been left in no doubt that his board of directors will accept nothing less than promotion next season.

The City board acted within 24 hours of the 2-1 defeat at Tottenham on Sunday, which confirmed their fate, to state McLeish is the man they want to lead them out of the npower Championship. But it is clear that the Scot cannot afford to have a bad start to the season, and if City are out of the promotion reckoning for any significant amount of time, his position will be under intense scrutiny.

McLeish may consider it a tall order, because he will have a very different squad at his disposal when the Championship campaign gets under way in August after the loss of around 25 million in revenue via relegation.

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McLeish said: "I will speak to them. There are one or two that are out of contract and we have to decide what is happening. Some of the guys will have other options and we appreciate that.

"The fact is we are in the Championship and not the Premier League and I'm sure they'll have choices. It's tough on us to be relegated but we don't lie down and bury our heads in the sand."

Sebastian Larsson, Kevin Phillips, Martin Jiranek and Lee Bowyer are at the end of their current contracts. Alexander Hleb, David Bentley, Matt Derbyshire and Obafemi Martins will return to their parent clubs after loan spells. Ben Foster, Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Cameron Jerome and Nikola Zigic could be targets for Premier League predators.

McLeish led City to promotion in his first full season, their ninth-place finish in 2009-2010 was their highest in the top flight and this season they lifted the Carling Cup. But the statement from acting chairman Peter Pannu makes it clear that regaining Premier League status is of paramount importance.

Pannu said: "The board regrets relegation and feels that supporters, who have continued to back us magnificently, have been let down.

"Alex McLeish's job is safe but the board will expect him to lead the side back to the Barclays Premier League in the 2011-12 season."

Pannu added: "The board will take stock of what went wrong this season despite Carson Yeung's promised injection of 40 million in funds - not 80m as the media wrongly assumed.

"The board will closely discuss and implement appropriate procedures to ensure a speedy return to the top flight.

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"Finally a word for our terrific supporters, who are no doubt feeling the pain like everyone else connected with the football club. We thank you for your tremendous backing - something we are confident we will still have moving forward as we embark on looking to make an immediate return to the Barclays Premier League."