Wigan confident over Bruce

November 22, 2007

Wigan Athletic are confident of confirming Steve Bruce as their new manager on Thursday.

Bruce was due to be unveiled at a press conference on Wednesday, only for his appointment to be put on hold due to an 11th-hour 'issue' between the 46-year-old and former club Birmingham.

The Latics refused to divulge the nature of the problem, but on Wednesday night club officials were describing it as 'a minor hitch'.

It appears the Blues are claiming they are owed an advance payment of £225,000 by Bruce for image rights.

That is despite the fact Birmingham are due to receive £3million in compensation, with £2million payable immediately, and another £1million due if Bruce keeps Wigan in the Barclays Premier League.

With Wigan's hands tied, Bruce's return to the Latics helm is now in his own as he looks to sever a last remaining loose end with City.

'We definitely want him, and he wants to come to Wigan,' insisted chief executive Brenda Spencer, forced to explain the absence of Bruce in front of the assembled media at the JJB Stadium.

'But unfortunately an issue has arisen between Birmingham and Steve, and until that is resolved we can't announce him as our manager.

'It's frustrating, especially as it happened late Tuesday. Dave (Whelan) is very upset because we were hoping to have Steve sign his contract and appoint him on Wednesday.'

Wigan have done all they can, with Spencer adding: 'We have agreed compensation, but this issue is nothing to do with Wigan. It's between Steve and Birmingham.

'Our chairman is desperate we have a manager in place and he is hopeful something will happen.

'We just have to sit tight, hold fire and hope that it will be resolved, that Steve can sort it out.

'Steve is our number one and hopefully he will be appointed. But the issue first has to be resolved between Birmingham and Steve.

'It's something we have been working on to resolve, and we've been in contact with Birmingham, but we can't really do anything.'

It means caretaker boss Frank Barlow will again work with the team today ahead of Saturday's trip to leaders Arsenal.

If Bruce is finally installed, it is a daunting first clash as he looks to arrest a run of seven successive defeats that has seen the Latics slip to second bottom in the table.