Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has reluctantly given Everton permission to speak to manager Roberto Martinez after accepting the Spaniard's request to leave the club.
At a meeting this afternoon Martinez told Whelan he was ending his four-year association with the Latics, with Everton now expected to make an official approach for Spaniard to replace David Moyes at Goodison Park.
Everton appear to be in pole position after requesting permission to speak to Martinez over the weekend. The Merseyside outfit have yet to comment on the situation.
Martinez remains in his post for the time being but Whelan told Press Association Sport: "Roberto wants to move on and I have got to accept it.
"Everton rang me and I said they have permission to talk to him. I would never stop Roberto talking to football clubs.
"We will let him go but he's on a 12-month rolling contract so if he moves someone will have to buy him out of his final year.
"We are still friends, we will always be good friends and he will always be a friend of Wigan Athletic."
Whelan said the club's relegation had been the main factor in Martinez's decision to seek a new challenge.
"He does not feel he is up to the task of getting us back into the Premier League," added the Wigan chairman.
"Football is football and I understand where he is coming from.
"Everton are a nice club and have a great chairman in Bill (Kenwright) and he is an honest man."
The club confirmed Martinez has been given permission to speak to another club in a statement: "Wigan Athletic can confirm that following an approach made by another football club, permission has been given to Roberto Martinez to discuss a vacant managerial position.
"After discussions between Roberto and Chairman Dave Whelan, it was reluctantly agreed that Roberto, who remains the Manager of Wigan Athletic, would be allowed to speak another club."
The 39-year-old has been linked with a number of clubs in recent weeks and the Latics' relegation from the Premier League – despite winning the FA Cup – has led to increased speculation about his future.
Whelan had previously said he would not stand in Martinez's way should he wish to leave. The pair have had a strong relationship dating back to Martinez's playing days, the Spaniard having first joined the club in 1995.
Martinez, who has 12 months left on his contract, has been one of the frontrunners for the Everton job. Confirmation Manuel Pellegrini is leaving Malaga however, could raise the possibility of him returning to his homeland.
Martinez has indicated he has strong ties to Wigan after four years there and feels FA Cup trophy is a suitable parting gift despite relegation.
The former Swansea manager was linked with the vacant job at Merseyside rivals Liverpool last summer but opted to stay at Wigan.
Wigan captain Gary Caldwell had earlier urged Martinez to stay.
"Everyone wants to be here next year and obviously the gaffer is at the head of everything we do here," Caldwell told the Wigan Evening Post.
"A lot of other clubs will be wanting to take him and rightly so.
"But obviously we all want him to stay here and help us to get back into the Premier League as quickly as possible.
"It's his decision, and it will be a big decision to make.
"Whatever he decides we'll wish him well, but on behalf of the players here we're desperate for him to stay."
Additional reporting, PA
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