Birmingham City ‘reluctantly’ accept Chris Hughton may join Norwich City

Birmingham City have described Chris Hughton as a 'great manager' – after reluctantly giving him permission to start talks with Norwich City.

The two clubs were reported to have agreed a compensation deal of about �2m before the 53-year-old was allowed to speak to the Canaries about replacing Paul Lambert at Carrow Road.

As it appeared increasingly likely that Hughton would be confirmed as Lambert's successor, the Blues were clearly disappointed at the prospect of losing him after just one season, when he guided them into fourth place in the Championship before a play-off semi-final defeat by Blackpool.

A statement released by Birmingham read: 'Birmingham City FC can confirm that Norwich City FC have made an approach for Chris Hughton with regards to their vacant managerial position. Hughton expressed a wish to speak to the Canaries and permission was reluctantly granted.'

Acting chairman Peter Pannu said: 'Chris is a great manager and deserves the opportunity to speak to Norwich, which is why we have granted him permission to speak to them.'

A statement from Carrow Road was shorter still: 'Norwich City can confirm that Birmingham City have granted the club permission to speak to Chris Hughton about the vacant managerial position at Carrow Road. The club will be making no further comment at this stage.'

Hughton had been linked to the managerial vacancy at the Blues' neighbours, West Bromwich Albion, before the Canaries made their move.

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Hughton, on a one-year rolling contract, has spent less under 12 months at St Andrew's after replacing Alex McLeish following his controversial move to fierce rivals Aston Villa.

The former Tottenham player guided Newcastle to the Championship title in 2010 before surprisingly losing his job in December of that year with the Magpies 11th in the Premier League.

Hughton became a popular figure at Birmingham and was greatly admired by supporters, who look set for a difficult summer as the club's uncertain financial future continues to provide concern.

Battling against well-documented cash-flow problems and having put together a new-look side following their relegation from the Premier League, Hughton led Birmingham impressively in both the Europa League and FA Cup before finishing fourth in the Championship.

In a marathon season of 62 games in all competitions, the Blues won 26, drew 21 and lost 15.

Reports suggest Hughton will be joined at Norwich by his assistant at Birmingham, Colin Calderwood, and coach Paul Trollope, but the position of goalkeeping coach Dave Watson – currently with the England coaching team at Euro 2012 – is less clear.