McLeish quits as Birmingham boss

Alex McLeish has resigned from Birmingham City and could be set for a move back to the English Premier League with local rivals Aston Villa.McLeish, 52, chose to end his four-year reign at St Andrews after the club was relegated from the top flight on the last day of the 2010/11 season.

Birmingham’s owners opted to retain the Scotsman’s services, but made it clear they expected him to win promotion from the Championship at the first time of asking.

However, the former Rangers and Scotland boss has decided to walk out on the club he joined in 2007.

“Birmingham City Football Club can confirm that Alex McLeish has resigned as manager,” a statement on the club’s website read.

“Acting chairman Peter Pannu received an email resignation from McLeish earlier today while away on business in Amsterdam.”

McLeish is already being linked with the vacant position at fierce cross-city Villa, who have been without a manager after Frenchman Gerard Houllier formally stepped aside due to health issues on June 1.

Rafael Benitez, Steve McLaren and Mark Hughes have all been linked with the job, while Wigan Athletic’s Roberto Martinez declined an opportunity to interview with Villa officials.

Former Aberdeen captain McLeish left his role as head coach of Scotland to join Birmingham in November 2007 after the departure of Steve Bruce from St Andrews.

He was unable to preserve the team’s Premier League status, but secured automatic promotion from the Championship in 2009.

He guided the team to ninth place – their highest finish in over 50 years – in 2009/10, before winning the Carling Cup with a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in February.