Ugo Ehiogu
Ehiogu died in April, aged 44. Reuters

Bookmaker Paddy Power has apologised for allowing customers to bet on deceased footballer Ugo Ethiogu to become the next Birmingham City manager.

The company briefly advertised the former England, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough defender as 66/1 to replace Harry Redknapp at St Andrew's, after the 70-year-old was sacked on Saturday (16 September).

Ehiogu died on 20 April this year at the age of 44, after suffering a cardiac arrest at Tottenham's training ground, where he worked as coach for the Under 23 team.

A number of punters took to social media to express their anger at what was perceived a stunt in poor taste.

Through its official Twitter account, Paddy Power replied saying Ehiogu's inclusion was "a genuine error, which was removed as soon as we realised. Apologies."

A spokesperson for the bookmaker subsequently issued a formal apology, insisting the public were able to put money on the late Villa defender for "less than five minutes" before the error was discovered, and that nobody had done so.

"This was a genuine error, a trader re-used an old market as a template for this one, and didn't notice that Mr Ehiogu was included," Paddy Power said in a statement issued to the Press Association.

"Obviously, that was a mistake, one which was rectified as soon as it was spotted, within minutes. We would like to apologise to Mr Ehiogu's family if they did see the tweet. It was obviously a mistake and no offence was meant."

Redknapp was sacked after overseeing a 3-1 loss at home against Preston North End on Saturday, as his side's sixth defeat in eight Championship game so far this season left them second from bottom.

He replaced Gianfranco Zola in April after the Italian endured a disastrous five months, during which the Blues had won only twice in 24 games. With Redknapp at the helm, Birmingham successfully avoided relegation but six defeats in a row have convinced the owners to part ways with the veteran manager.

Paddy Power offered odds of 33-1 on both former England boss Sam Allardyce and Frank de Boer, who replaced the former at Selhurst Park but was sacked last week, while Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor and Birmingham-born rocker Ozzy Osbourne were outside bets at 275-1 and 2,500-1 respectively. Former Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka is currently the favourite for the role.