The Hong Kong businessman trying to buy Birmingham City said yesterday he was "shocked" manager Steve Bruce had quit the Premier League club and remained confident the stumbling takeover would proceed.
Carson Yeung said he had met Bruce three weeks ago and had played no part in Bruce's decision to leave the English club and return to his old side Wigan.
"We had a very good conference with each other," Yeung told reporters, following an extraordinary meeting of the board of Grandtop International, the company through which Yeung is hoping to buy Birmingham.
"I would have let him stay, but unfortunately he left. This is a shock, a bit of a surprise. I never expected him to leave and I am very appreciative to Steve Bruce," he said.
Sammy Yu, Grandtop's chief operating officer, said the company had no authority to act on any staffing decisions at the club, and would play no part in choosing Bruce's successor.
Grandtop took a 29.9 percent stake in Birmingham City in June, but has still not raised the extra ?30 million (US$62 million) to gain total control of the club.
Birmingham chairman David Gold has given Yeung a Dec. 23 deadline to complete a deal, although Yu said the deadline would not be a factor.
Yu said that the club were dragging their heels on providing information that could speed up the deal but said the company was still confident the deal would go forward.
"We want it [the takeover] to be done as soon as possible," Yu said.
"[Birmingham] could do a lot. You can see they cannot even settle themselves down. They have problems with Steve Bruce regarding the image rights, so perhaps they are in quite a difficult time," he said.
"We don't want to push them too hard, but we have hope that they can help whenever they can, so [we can go forward] as quick as we can," he said.