Norwich City refuse Burnley permission over Paul Lambert talks
Norwich City have refused Championship rivals Burnley permission to speak to Paul Lambert about the managerial vacancy at Turf Moor.
The Canaries released a statement shortly after 11.30pm Thursday night stating they will fight 'tooth and nail' to hold on to their prized managerial team of Lambert, assistant Ian Culverhouse and head of football operations Gary Karsa.
Little more than an hour earlier on a dramatic night, Burnley issued a statement of their own confirming they had made an official approach to City to speak to Lambert, who is clearly chairman Barry Kilby's first choice to replace the sacked Brian Laws.
However, the Canaries' reply read: 'Norwich City wish to confirm, in response to Burnley's decision this evening to publish the fact that they have made a formal request for permission to speak to Paul Lambert about their managerial vacancy, that permission has not been granted.
'Under no circumstances would the club wish to grant permission.
'The club will fight tooth and nail to retain the services of Paul Lambert and his team, during this critical period of the season, and whilst they remain employed under a long-term contract.
'The club remain committed to Paul and his team in the long term, and see them as a vital part of our future plans.'
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Speculation heightened on Thursday over Burnley's intentions after two major bookmakers made Lambert odds on favourite to become the Clarets' permanent replacement for Laws, who was sacked shortly after Christmas following their stuttering attempts to return to the Premier League at the first attempt.
They currently sit eight points and seven places below third placed City in the Championship table.
Lambert laughed off rumours about a possible switch to Burnley last week – yet both Skybet and Victor Chandler saw fit to make the man who took Norwich to the League One championship last season favourite for job, with his odds as short as 5-6.
The Clarets' earlier statement said: 'Tonight a formal request has been submitted to Norwich City Football Club to speak to their manager Paul Lambert.
'The club has begun the process of targeting the shortlist of candidates to fill the vacant manager's role at Turf Moor, and club officials have subsequently requested permission from the Norwich board to discuss the position with Lambert.
'Burnley Football Club will make no further comment at this time.'
Lambert is due to attend Friday morning's Colney press conference, ahead of City's FA Cup third round tie with Leyton Orient tomorrow.
And while Burnley have shown their hand, it remains to be seen whether Lambert would consider a move down the Championship's pecking order as the best way to further his career, given the levels his stock has risen to at Carrow Road.
Burnley chairman Kilby said: 'We have two weeks where we don't have a league game with points at stake. It gives us that time to get up and down the country and see the people we want to see, see the best candidates and get the best person for Burnley Football Club.
'We're going down to our shortlist and we'll be interviewing the people we want to see. More or less our shortlist is about half a dozen people, different sorts, different reputation. Let's hope we can make a good decision.
'I'd say we will appoint when we're ready. Stuart (Gray) is holding the fort now but the path of the club has to be sorted out as quickly as possible and uncertainties put out of the way. That is the most important, but on the other hand it has got to be the right man. There will be negotiations attached to that with their own timescale. We'll do it as quickly as we possibly can.'
Watford's Malky Mackay and St Johnstone boss Derek McInnes have also been touted as serious contenders for the Burnley job, although the Hornets have warned rival clubs off an approach for their man.
Coincidentally, it is a year to the day City director Michael Foulger issued a hands-off warning to Burnley – then a Premier League side – as they searched to replace Bolton-bound Owen Coyle.
'Once again we have had no approach for Paul,' said Foulger, 12 months ago. 'I'm really impressed by his (Paul Lambert's) commitment to Norwich City and the way he goes about his business and I want him to be the manager to take this club forward.'
Lambert joined City in August 2009 from Colchester United, having overseen their 7-1 demolition on the opening day of the season 10 days earlier.
Since then Lambert has enjoyed almost 18 months of unbroken success at Carrow Road, turning City into runaway League One winners and now serious candidates for promotion to the Premier League.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, former Clarets midfielder Paul Cook and ex-Chelsea number two Steve Clarke have also been linked with the Turf Moor vacancy.