Fee for me was a good one, says Matt

MATT Holland last night warned that the £750,000 Ipswich got for him will be among the higher transfer fees this summer, writes Derek Davis.The popular midfielder believes the fee, which could rise to £900,000, was a good bit of business for the Blues who were forced into selling him to Charlton.

MATT Holland last night warned that the £750,000 Ipswich got for him will be among the higher transfer fees this summer, writes Derek Davis.

The popular midfielder believes the fee, which could rise to £900,000, was a good bit of business for the Blues who were forced into selling him to Charlton.

He appreciates that compared to the £4m offered by Aston Villa a year ago, the recent price may look miserly, but given the current climate in football finances, it represents a reasonable return on the original £800,000 investment.

Holland signed from Bournemouth, ironically when they were in deep financial strife, and went on to make more than 300 appearances for Ipswich, lead them into the Premiership and the UEFA Cup and gained internnational recognition, winning 33 caps and recently standing in as captain of the Republic of Ireland.


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He said: “From the club's point of view it was the best deal they could have got.

“Ipswich have had six years' service and are getting their money back so that can't be bad.

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“I can understand people saying the fee was too low, especially after £4m was offered last year. But I was the one who turned that move down and since then the transfer market has collapsed.

“You only have to look at the amount of players who are not commanding fees any more, for example Matteo Sereni was bought for £4.8m, and has been valued even higher in Italy yet no-one is willing, or able, to pay anything and it is the same throughout the game.”

Town had little choice but to accept £750,000 for Holland after just two clubs, the Addicks and Portsmouth, showed an interest in the Irish international.

Although there was interest from clubs in the north and the midlands they were ruled out as unsuitable by Holland, leaving just London clubs and the two south-coast Premiership sides Southampton and Portsmouth to sell to.

Despite reported interest by the Saints and Tottenham Hotspur, the club did not hear a peep from either and the two potential suitors, Pompey and Charlton both said they would only take him on a free transfer.

Town refused and eventually Harry Redknapp cracked and made a cash bid.

Personal terms went to an advanced stage, Holland's wife Paula had checked out the schools and housing and they were prepared to move to the south coast.

But, unknown to Charlton, negotiations broke down and Pompey withdrew from the bid, leaving Town facing the prospect of getting nothing for Holland.

Alan Curbishley then contacted Town, who agreed a £750,000 fee and after a weekend of talks, Holland agreed to make the move.

He said: “They are established in the Premiership and it meant we didn't have to up sticks. Paula is happy and I know I'm joining a good club.

“It is a wrench to leave Ipswich. I have a lot of good memories and had some brilliant times at Ipswich but I needed to get back into Premiership football. I'm getting on for 30 and it gets harder every year to get back into the Premiership.

“I will miss the Ipswich fans enormously.

“They have been absolutely brilliant to me and I hope they can understand why I had to leave.”

The former Town captain and darling of the crowd bade farewell to his former team-mates on Wednesday when he went to see them before they went on a long run to mark their return to pre-season, gleefully reminding them he has another 10 days before starting at Charlton.

He said: “It was quite moving really but I will stay in touch with many of the players. I will get to Portman Road to watch games as often as possible.”

It will not be long before he catches up with another former Town favourite with Hermann Hreidarsson set to make his debut the same day as Holland after recovering from a thigh injury.

He joined the Addicks in March and Holland is looking forward to the reunion.

He said: “It will be great to have Hermann there, I know quite a few of the players already, Dean Kiely is in the Irish squad and I have played against many of the others.

“I'm looking forward to the season, to be playing against the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United again.”

With Charlton strengthening after finishing 11th last season, European football has to be an aim for the south London club and Holland would love a third go at the UEFA Cup.

He said: “First things first, we have to make sure we are safe and that means aiming for that magical 40-point mark, then start looking further on.”

In typical Holland style he made a point of personally passing on his congratulations and best wishes to Jim Magilton who has taken his armband.

It was a touch of class from a player and a person who, despite any fee, is priceless and unique and will be greatly missed.

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