Promoted Portsmouth get a bargain buy in Ipswich captain Holland

LONDON: Ipswich Town have accepted a £750,000 offer from Premier League newcomers Portsmouth for their captain Matt Holland because they cannot afford to pay his wages, they said on Wednesday. 

However, the midfielder, who is on international duty with Ireland for their next two Euro 2004 qualifiers, has yet to discuss personal terms. Holland rejected a £4 million move to Aston Villa last August. 

Portsmouth, who won the First Division title last season, are among a number of clubs who have expressed an interest in the 29-year-old and both Charlton Athletic and Southampton have also been linked with him over the last few weeks. 

Ipswich chairman David Sheepshanks told the official Ipswich website: “...most regrettably and reluctantly, we have been obliged to consider the transfer opportunities for our much admired and outstanding captain Matt Holland. 

“For any club outside the Premiership, it's not just about transfer fees but also the size of wage commitments.  

“Matt was not on huge money by Premier League standards, but nevertheless on a level that is simply unaffordable in the First Division.” 

Relegation from the Premier League in 2002 cost Ipswich £15million and in February this year they had to call in administrators to restructure their debts. 

The financial problems have forced the club to sell some of their best players, including England Under-21 defender Titus Bramble and Iceland international Hermann Hreidarsson. 

After failing to reach the First Division playoffs despite a late push under manager Joe Royle, the Suffolk club have had to plan for another season outside the top flight in a transfer market that shows little sign of coming to life. 

“The state of the transfer market is such that while there is interest in a player of Matt's pedigree, the very best fee that we have been able to obtain is £750,000 from Portsmouth,” Sheepshanks said. 

“This is particularly tough to digest when a year ago much higher values were being spoken of and, indeed, in August 2002 we agreed a sale to Aston Villa for £4 million.” 

Holland joined Ipswich for £800,000 in 1997 from Bournemouth after coming through the ranks at West Ham United where Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp was in charge. – Reuters 

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