Matt to get £1m a year

MATT Holland will be paid £1million-a-year-plus to lead Portsmouth into the Premiership.Pompey boss Harry Redknapp may be signing the Ipswich skipper on the cheap after agreeing a cut-price £750,000 fee.

By Mel Henderson

MATT Holland will be paid £1million-a-year-plus to lead Portsmouth into the Premiership.

Pompey boss Harry Redknapp may be signing the Ipswich skipper on the cheap after agreeing a cut-price £750,000 fee.

But he knows he must at least match his £20,000-a-week Portman Road salary to lure the ex-Bournemouth player back to the south coast.

Holland, who made 316 appearances and scored 46 goals in six seasons with Town, is ready to complete his move in the next 24 hours.

He and wife Paula will be at Fratton Park tomorrow, when both parties are confident a deal can be struck.

Most Read

Holland, 29, will undergo what should be a routine medical and is expected to agree personal terms with the Premiership new boys.

Town reluctantly accepted Pompey's offer last week and the deal was put on hold while Holland was away on international duty with the Republic of Ireland.

He helped the Irish to a 2-0 win over Georgia in last night's Euro 2004 qualifier in Dublin, taking his senior cap tally to 32.

His agent, Jonathan Barnett, has kept Holland briefed on negotiations and the player is fully aware that Portsmouth will meet his wage demands.

Fratton Park boss Harry Redknapp, busily strengthening his squad for the huge challenge that lies ahead, is not expecting any late hitches.

Redknapp has gone on holiday, leaving chief executive Peter Storrie to thrash out a deal on the club's behalf.

Weekend reports that Tottenham were ready to make an 11th hour move for the player were without foundation.

Redknapp said: "I don't know anything about Spurs coming in for Matt, but the fee has been agreed for him.

"It's not totally done and dusted, there are still a few things to be done. He's down on Friday, but we still have to work through things like doing the medical and agreeing personal terms."

Redknapp, keen to appoint Holland as his new skipper, confirmed: "The money has got to be sorted, but he wouldn't be taking a cut in wages to come here.

"Matt has three years left on his deal at Ipswich, so he has the comfort of being able to stay there on that money to fall back on.

"So he wouldn't be taking a drop in wages. We would probably have to match what he is on at the moment."

The cash will come in handy for Ipswich, as they must fork out around £1million to say farewell to Nigerian misfit Finidi George.

That will bring the total bill to around £6 million for the 32-year-old former European Cup winner and Olympic gold medallist.

George cost £3.1million from Real Mallorca less than two years ago, but the £20,000-a-week star played just 46 games and scored eight goals.

News of his £1million pay-off was first revealed in The Evening Star last week and was confirmed by Ipswich last night.

The departure of Holland and George will save the club around £2million a year in wages – but further cuts are still necessary.

Town are keen to part company with another high-earning star, goalkeeper Matteo Sereni, and his future is likely to be resolved by the end of the month.

Sereni cost a club record fee of £5million from Sampdoria in August 2001 and still has two years of his lucrative contract to run.

He is wanted by his former club and Brescia, with whom he spent the entire 2002-2003 Serie A campaign on loan, as well as Lazio.

Sereni was thought to be on a salary of around £20,000 a week but might actually be pocketing TWICE that sum.

Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric, outlining the club's summer spending plans, quoted a conversation he had with his Ipswich counterpart.

Mandaric said: "David Sheepshanks, the Ipswich chairman, said to me the other day, 'Milan, don't do what we've done'.

"He said 'Don't buy an Italian goalkeeper, pay him £40,000 a week, then send him back a few months later'."