McGreal leaves for Burnley

Ipswich Town's out-of-contract defender John McGreal has been snapped up by new Burnley boss Steve Cotterill, his first signing for the club, in what is a big blow to Town boss Joe Royle's plans for next season, writes David Vincent.

Ipswich Town's out-of-contract defender John McGreal has been snapped up by new Burnley boss Steve Cotterill, his first signing for the club, in what is a big blow to Town boss Joe Royle's plans for next season, writes David Vincent.

Royle wanted to keep McGreal to play alongside new arrival, Canadian captain Jason De Vos, who he had previously snatched from under the noses of Wigan.

Instead McGreal, one of the few remaining links with the promotion-winning team of Wembley 2000 and the successful first year in the Premiership, has been given a three-year deal by the Clarets.

Cotterill said: "We are delighted to have John on board at Burnley Football Club.


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"John is a great signing and one of the best defenders in the first division. It is great he has committed his future to Burnley."

McGreal was signed from Tranmere Rovers for £650,000 where he had been for nine years, so he is returning closer to his Liverpool roots.

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He starred for Town in the First Division and in the Premiership when they finished fifth and qualified for Europe.

"I'm most pleased to have signed for Burnley," he told the Lancashire side's club website.

"I had a fantastic five years at Ipswich, apart from relegation. But this is a totally different challenge and one I am looking forward to.

"Obviously geography helps and I'll be nearer friends and family in the north-west, but that isn't the reason for the move. I just looking forward to getting started now."

McGreal's career looked in doubt when he missed the early part of last season with a niggling series of injuires. But he returned to the team in December and played a starring role in the exciting end of season push for the play-offs.

Though he starred in the 1-0 win over West Ham United in the home leg of the play-off semi-finals he was not fit for the return, which Ipswich lost, and so missed out on the chance of promotion.

Thirty-two-year-old McGreal was believed to be unhappy at the length of the contract and the financial package offered by Ipswich. And three years is a long deal for a 32-year-old.

Apart from De Vos, who played for Canada in a World Cup qualifier against Belize on Wednesday, Town are not short of choice in the centre-half department.

There are Joe Royle's signings of last summer Drissa Diallo and Georges Santos. Diallo of course came from Burnley after starring against Ipswich and Clarets fans will see it as getting even.

Both of them missed substantial parts of last season through injury.

Then there is versatile Richard Naylor and several promising youngsters including Aidan Collins, Ben Patrick and Jerome Sobers.

Royle may decide find a partner for De Vos from within the club or dip into the transfer market.

This summer, probably more than any other, there are plenty of experienced players available..

And there are others, disgruntled by being offered shorter contracts, or less money than they think they are worth, considering other options with their agents.

At Colchester, for example, skipper Alan White opted to join Leyton Orient on a two-year contract when he had been offered just one year, initially, by Phil Parkinson.

Several of Ipswich Town's out-of-contract players have been offered deals for next season including Jim Magilton, Jermaine Wright, Fabian Wilnis and Naylor.

Like McGreal their contracts extend until June 30 so they remain Ipswich players, officially, until then at least.

And there is no news of any bids for Town players under contract, especially striker Marcus Bent, despite plenty of reported interest.

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