Bent exit could begin exodus

IPSWICH Town stand to lose four of their most important players for an initial net profit of less than £3m, writes Derek Davis.Darren Bent finally got his wish to play for a Premiership club after Ipswich Town accepted a £2.

IPSWICH Town stand to lose four of their most important players for an initial net profit of less than £3m, writes Derek Davis.

Darren Bent finally got his wish to play for a Premiership club after Ipswich Town accepted a £2.5m bid from Charlton, while Kelvin Davis was last night understood to be in talks with Sunderland after they had an offer agreed. The Blues refused to disclose how much the fee for Davis is but the Black Cats were reported in the north-east to have bid £750,000.

A percentage of that will go to MK Dons, although Town chairman David Sheepshanks has insisted it is not the 50% widely reported when the keeper signed from Wimbledon almost two years ago, but declined to reveal what the percentage is.

Even so, Town will probably pocket less than £500,000 in the deal, and with Tommy Miller believed to be going to the Stadium of Light by the end of the month and Shefki Kuqi also Premiership-bound, Ipswich will lose a trio of players who scored 64 goals between them last season and a keeper who earned them a number of points with his match-saving performances for less than £3m.


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Bent's fee will rise by another £500,000 depending on appearances and winning a full England cap but Charlton will see it as good business in signing the Under-21 international, who hit 19 goals for Ipswich last season.

The Blues appear to have been panicked into accepting a lower bid than the one they rejected from the Addicks last August, when it emerged Jon Stead was given permission to talk to Charlton boss Alan Curbishley following a £1.5m offer being accepted by Blackburn Rovers.

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Stead is likely to join Sunderland for the same fee, with adds on worth a further £300,000.

Bent revealed in April that he would leave Ipswich if they did not get promoted, and he needed little convincing that joining Matt Holland Hermann Hreidarsson at The Valley was his best option.

Speaking to the EADT minutes before actually signing his contract, Bent said: “I've had a fantastic time at Ipswich but all players need to progress when they have the opportunity.

“I would have definitely stayed with Ipswich if we had got promoted but it wasn't to be. I want to thank the fans and the coaches and all the lads for all the great times that we had at Ipswich.

“The majority of supporters have been fantastic to me ever since I made my debut when I was 17 and before that in the youths and reserves. The majority of the times at Ipswich were good days, playing in Europe and things like that, but now I have the chance to play in the Premiership with a terrific club like Charlton.

“I spoke to Matty Holland about Charlton and he told me they were a very similar club, in many ways to Ipswich, but this would be a great opportunity, and when someone like Matty says things like that then you have to listen.

“It is a shame to see the Ipswich team breaking up, if it does. There are a lot of terrific lads there and we were very, very close.

“I have always been able to answer the challenge that has been asked of me and I have seen, when I have been with the England Under-21s, that I can hold my own with Premiership players and I'm confident that I can do well in the Premiership with Charlton.”

Ipswich turned down a £3m-plus-bonus-payments offer from the south London club at the end of the transfer window last August but, with only a year left on Bent's contract, they have decided to cash in quickly while they can.

Most of the money will go to paying off loans to the banks and interest due on the stadium rebuilding and it is unlikely Blues boss Joe Royle will be given much to actually buy players. Royle has targeted an out-of-contract striker, with Ashley Ward and Shaun Goater linked to Ipswich.

Town chairman David Sheepshanks said: “It is always sad to sell one of your home-grown players but this has become a necessity.

“Both the player and his agent have, for the last 12 months, declined to discuss any new long-term contract, other than if we were promoted. It is understandable that the player wishes to play in the Premier League, leaving us no alternative other than to realise maximum value through his transfer.

“Last summer we didn't sell Darren, instead taking a calculated risk in retaining him in the hope that he would score the goals to take us to the Premiership.

“It very nearly worked - but not quite. With just one year left on a contract, negotiations are tougher. However, after carefully considering the offer, I, along with the manager and the board, are satisfied that, while I think Charlton Athletic are getting a fine young player, we are getting full value in today's transfer market.”

n Stoke defender Wayne Thomas, one of Joe Royle's targets, last night joined Burnley on a three-year deal. Thomas will play alongside John McGreal, who rejected a new contract offer at Portman Road last summmer.

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