Oldham boss Iain Dowie would be free to walk away from Boundary Park to take up the West Ham manager's vacancy.
Dowie is currently working without a contract at the Latics after refusing to sign the one placed in front of him two weeks ago.
And that could be the cue West Ham are waiting for to approach Dowie, who has been installed as favourite for the Upton Park hotseat.
The Latics insist no formal approach has been made by West Ham to speak to Dowie, who took over at Boundary Park two years ago.
But after caretaker boss and Hammers' director Trevor Brooking ruled himself out of the running to succeed Glenn Roeder, Oldham face increasing pressure to keep their promising young manager.
Dowie was offered a contract before the troubled Latics went into administration, but never signed it.
Oldham marketing director Sean Jarvis said: "It is no surprise that Iain is being linked to the West Ham job.
"We are sure that while Iain remains employed at Latics he wil be giving his all and remain committed to the club despite its current difficulties."
The former West Ham, Southampton and QPR striker has impressed with the way he guided Oldham into last season's Division Two play-offs in difficult circumstances.
During the summer, Dowie had several of Oldham's top players, including defender Fitz Hall, sold from under him as the club struggled to keep ther heads above water.
Dowie supported West Ham as a boy and has made no secret of his desire for the job.
He said: "There is no question that it is a fantastic job.
"West Ham is the team I supported and anyone, not just me, would be intersted in a team of their calibre.
"I'm enjoying my time at Oldham but if someone said to me 'Are you interested in the West Ham job?' and I said 'no' then that wouldn't be right for my family," Dowie told BBC Sport.