Stuart McCall is ready to breathe new life into City after accepting the challenge to lift them out of football's basement.

McCall tonight sensationally agreed to take over the reins at the Intersonic Stadium - although there will be no official announcement until he is unveiled at the club.

That could take up to a couple of weeks as he ties up a few loose ends after leaving his job as Sheffield United number two.

Chairman Julian Rhodes declined to comment but the T&A understands McCall, who has always been his number one choice, shook hands on the deal today. Bookmakers suspended betting on him for the job.

McCall was given permission by the Blades to talk to other clubs after being overlooked for the managerial vacancy at Bramall Lane.

The news will put a spring in the step of all City fans who have dreamed of seeing McCall return to the club for a third time since he last waved goodbye five years ago.

Rhodes has constantly hinted about the mystery candidate he was desperate to interview for the post.

Now he has his man and will hope the appointment can blow away the doom and gloom that has hung over Valley Parade as City have plummeted through the divisions.

McCall's arrival is sure to boost season-ticket sales as the club look to rebuild. Over 7,000 had pledged to the T&A-backed scheme which persuaded Rhodes to offer the cheapest tickets in the country at just £138.

Rhodes has consistently stressed that the club's future lies in the hands of the fans and, having delivered the manager they wanted, will expect them to back McCall all the way.

The former City trainee came back in 1998 after a ten-year absence and steered the club into the Premiership for the first time. Halting a six-year slide from top to bottom would be seen by many as just as big an achievement considering the financial turmoil during that period.

And with the talismanic McCall back on board, Rhodes will be optimistic the cash support he has been crying out for from local businesses should start to materialise.

  • Start or join a debate on this issue in our online forum - Click here