Charlton now favourites to sign Matt

PORTSMOUTH'S loss is Charlton Athletic's gain it seems. Within hours of his transfer talks collapsing with the South Coast club, Matt Holland appears to be on his way to east London, writes Steve Mellen.

PORTSMOUTH'S loss is Charlton Athletic's gain it seems. Within hours of his transfer talks collapsing with the South Coast club, Matt Holland appears to be on his way to east London, writes Steve Mellen.

With Harry Redknapp's newly-promoted club cooling their interest due to the personal terms of the Ipswich Town skipper, Alan Curbishley stepped in and it seems all but certain that the popular player will be driving to training on the A12 next season, but heading south rather than north.

Holland's proposed £750,000 switch to Pompey hit the rocks when the Barclaycard Premiership newcomers admitted they could not afford the player's personal terms.

A statement from Ipswich released yesterday afternoon said: "Ipswich Town Football Club acknowledged today that the proposed transfer of Matt Holland to Portsmouth appeared to be in serious jeopardy as a result of a breakdown in negotiations over the player's personal terms.


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"However, subsequent to this, the club can now confirm that it has reached an agreement of similar terms with Charlton Athletic and that Matt and his advisors have been given permission to speak to Charlton."

Portsmouth's chief executive Peter Storrie revealed the First Division champions had ended their interest in the player for the time being, after meeting Holland and his advisors in Guildford.

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"I have now spoken with Matt's advisors and from every way we look at it the terms are too expensive," Storrie told Portsmouth's official website www.pompeyfc.co.uk.

"We always said it was the case that until we talked terms it was far from being a done deal.

"Now we have talked those terms, we are in a position to say that we won't be taking the matter any further ourselves at this moment."

A move to the Valley, on purely geographical terms, is far more appealing to Holland, who leaves this weekend for a family holiday in Mauritius.

With a house in Essex, his children settled in local schools and his wife owning stables in the county, the short trip to south-east London would be convenient, provided he has more success agreeing terms.

It is a similar picture to last summer, when a £4m fee was agreed with Aston Villa, but terms could not be agreed and Holland stayed at Portman Road, something which delighted supporters at the time but in the long term proved costly as the club went into administration after Christmas.

David Sheepshanks and his board will be hoping the Charlton move does not collapse, as Holland is one of the higher earners they need to remove from Town's shrinking wage bill.

Should he agree to sign for the Addicks, he would join former team-mate Hermann Hreidarsson, who moved to The Valley in the new year.

There was a double dose of good news for Ipswich fans yesterday when young defender Matt Richards and last season's 18-goal second top scorer Darren Bent both signed three-year deals. Chairman Sheepshanks said he was delighted with the news both would be staying.

Richards told the official Ipswich Town website: "It's nice to know other people have been looking at me and the interest is there but there has never been a thought in my mind about leaving Ipswich."

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