Brum deal for Clapham

THE critical financial situation at Portman Road hit home today.Ipswich Town accepted a £1million plus offer from Birmingham City for 27-year-old Jamie Clapham – with the player in the Midlands to discuss terms with the Premiership outfit.

By Elvin King

THE critical financial situation at Portman Road hit home today.

Ipswich Town accepted a £1million plus offer from Birmingham City for 27-year-old Jamie Clapham – with the player in the Midlands to discuss terms with the Premiership outfit.

Former Tottenham player Clapham has begun every game this season earning rave reports from manager Joe Royle.

The Town boss said today: "Bearing in mind our financial situation the deal is right for Ipswich Town. Jamie will be talking with Birmingham manager Steve Bruce today and if they agree terms the deal will go through.

"Jamie has been outstanding since I arrived. I knew he was a good player, but did not realise how good until I saw him at first hand. He will be missed."

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Clapham has started 226 games for Ipswich, scoring 16 goals – including the first in the 4-0 FA Cup win over Morecambe last Saturday.

He began his Town career as a left back, but has been successfully employed in midfield this

campaign beginning on the left, but being handed a free role by Royle in recent weeks.

There is no doubt that Clapham is happy in Suffolk, and whether he joins Hermann Hreidarsson and Matt Holland in turning down a chance to return to the Premiership only time will tell.

Ipswich accepted a bid from West Brom for Hreidarsson, while an offer from Aston Villa for

skipper Holland was also agreed during the autumn.

Clapham said: "It would be hard to leave here. It is not all about money. We are starting to do well and have a good chance of sneaking into the First Division play-offs at the very least.

"The mood is very good and we all want to be involved in what is going on."

With redundancies taking place this week for up to 20 non-football employees at Portman Road, the balance sheet dictates that good offers have to b accepted.

Clapham was purchased from Spurs for £300,000 in March 1998 and was one of the key men in George Burley's side that finished fifth in the Premiership in 2000/01.

Bruce has all five of his recognised centre-halves out of action and is also being linked with Leeds' Michael Duberry and Arsenal's Matthew Upson.

He will look upon Clapham as giving him cover at left back and in midfield.

Meanwhile, Royle confirmed his frustration at tomorrow's reserve match being called off. "Finidi George, Alun Armstrong and Martijn Reuser are desperate for games," he said.

Royle says that defender Mark Venus has returned to full time training, while Jim Magilton is back in the fold after a compassionate weekend in Merseyside to be with an ill relative.

Thomas Gaardsoe is only rated 50-50 for Saturday's trip to Burnley because of a hamstring strain, but Tommy Miller's knee problem has improved and he should be fit. Chris Makin is suspended.

Royle confirmed that he expects Nigerian international George to leave during the transfer window.

"Finidi has not settled and this happens. He would like to return to his family in Spain and we will work on getting him fixed up.

"But my policy is if we are paying him then we will play him and he will come into contention when match fit."