Bruce set to take reins at Wigan

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The Birmingham City manager, Steve Bruce, is on the verge of joining Wigan Athletic after the Latics' chairman, Dave Whelan, said yesterday that a contract had been all but agreed, but had not been signed.

Bruce, who has been waiting for six months to seal a new deal at St Andrew's, had been looking likely to leave since Wigan made their interest clear. The Blues gave the former Manchester United defender the chance to speak to Whelan on Friday and talks appeared to be at an advanced stage yesterday.

"We will have a meeting with Steve on Monday and we are hoping we can make an announcement on Monday or Tuesday," the Wigan chairman said. "We look like we have a contract agreed, but nothing has been signed. There is no doubt from the start he was keen to come to Wigan."

Whelan admitted it has cost somewhere in the region of £3m in compensation but he felt the fee was worth it. "There is a clause in there and we have to honour that. We have agreed that with Birmingham," he said. "To get a manager of Steve Bruce's quality, I think that is a bargain."

Once Bruce's contract has been signed the next hurdle will be to try to persuade Birmingham to allow his assistant, Eric Black, to join him. However, the St Andrew's board is keen to keep Black to ensure some continuity while uncertainty over the proposed takeover of the club by the Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung continues.