The newly-promoted League One side are ready to grant Leeds permission to open talks with Clarke provided owner Massimo Cellino meets a list of “conditions” sent back to Elland Road after initial discussions between the two clubs.
Leeds made an official approach for 38-year-old Clarke after talks between Cellino and MK Dons manager Karl Robinson fell through last week and the former Hartlepool United midfielder looks to be a clear frontrunner to replace Steve Evans – who is still currently in the post – at Elland Road.
Clarke holds a year-long rolling contract with Rovers, a deal which permanently ties him to the Memorial Stadium for the 12 months ahead, and Leeds would be required to agree compensation before starting negotiations with him.
Rovers reacted to Leeds’s expression of interest by offering Clarke an improved three-year deal following talks between him and club chairman Steve Hamer on Monday.
Clarke is considering that proposal as he waits to see if Leeds will agree to Rovers’ demands. United are yet to make any comment in response to Bristol Rovers’ statement.
The move for Clarke so soon after Cellino’s meeting with Robinson in London last week has all but confirmed that Cellino intends to replace Evans as head coach before the start of pre-season. Evans was on holiday in Dubai as news of United’s interest in Clarke and Robinson broke and it is understood that those close to the Scot are now advising him to quit Elland Road with his contract due to expire on June 30.
Evans declined to confirm that but said last night that he would be back at work at Thorp Arch this morning having flown back to England yesterday.
“I’m refreshed and l’ll be working until someone tells me different,” Evans said.