Bellamy deal could be blow for Blues

IS it possible that former arch-enemy Craig Bellamy may be about to put the mockers on Ipswich all over again?The former Norwich star once famously netted the only goal in an East Anglian derby clash at Portman Road in October 1998 and instantly became Public Enemy Number One in the eyes of unforgiving Town supporters.

By Mel Henderson

IS it possible that former arch-enemy Craig Bellamy may be about to put the mockers on Ipswich all over again?

The former Norwich star once famously netted the only goal in an East Anglian derby clash at Portman Road in October 1998 and instantly became Public Enemy Number One in the eyes of unforgiving Town supporters.

The news that the ex-Carrow Road favourite has been given permission to discuss a move from Blackburn to Liverpool could have serious financial repercussions, at least in the short term, for Town.


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If all parties are in agreement, and a deal is completed, the cost to Ipswich could be in excess of £1million, the sort of windfall that would undoubtedly help transform the squad inherited by new boss Jim Magilton into genuine promotion challengers.

Let me explain. When Town agreed to sell Darren Bent to Charlton last summer it was for what now appears a modest down payment of £2.5m, with the proviso that further fees of £200,000 for each of his first two competitive caps for England would also be forthcoming. Sadly, from Ipswich's point of view, when Sven-Goran Eriksson awarded Bent his first senior international appearance it was in a friendly against Uruguay at Anfield on March 1 this year.

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It may have been a big moment for the player, by no means the first Town academy graduate to represent his country, but it did nothing to swell the Portman Road coffers.

There was further disappointment to follow when Bent, who gave way to Jermain Defoe in the 82nd minute of the 2-1 win over Uruguay, was surprisingly overlooked by Eriksson when he named his World Cup warriors.

However, as that particular door closed, another one opened, Bent's scoring exploits apparently attracting the attention of several Premiership big boys, including Liverpool.

Even before he lost French striker Djibril Cisse to a broken leg sustained in a pre-World Cup friendly, Anfield boss Rafael Benitez was reported to be keen on securing Bent's services.

Charlton's asking price was said to be more than £7.5m, meaning they would make a whopping £5m on the player in just over 12 months.

Well, not quite, because part of Ipswich's arrangement with the Addicks was that they would pocket 20% of any profit made - £1m if Bent moved on for £7.5m.

But it could be that Bellamy's availability, for what looks a reasonable fee for a proven Premiership star, may only delay Town's hoped-for cash bonus.

Liverpool can hardly be blamed for taking advantage of a clause inserted at the insistence of Bellamy, via his agent, when he joined Blackburn less than a year ago following an explosive bust-up with Newcastle manager Graeme Souness.

It is clear that the Welsh international striker, who helped Rovers to earn a shock UEFA Cup place, merely regarded his transfer to Ewood Park as a stepping stone to greater things.

His wish is close to being granted, so once again the spotlight falls on Bent and whether Charlton will be able to resist any offers that come their way.

The transfer grapevine is buzzing with rumours that Tottenham could cash in on Defoe then cough up as much as £10m to sign the ex-Ipswich man.

That would mean a £1.5m bonus for Town and, who knows, a passport to the Premiership if it were to be spent wisely.

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