Royle on Ambrose deal: We've been robbed

FORMER Ipswich Town manager Sir Bobby Robson was today celebrating his biggest coup.The man who made a succession of brilliant signings while in charge at Portman Road topped the lot by agreeing a deal with cash-strapped Town to snatch rising star Darren Ambrose for just £1million.

By Elvin King

FORMER Ipswich Town manager Sir Bobby Robson was today celebrating his biggest coup.

The man who made a succession of brilliant signings while in charge at Portman Road topped the lot by agreeing a deal with cash-strapped Town to snatch rising star Darren Ambrose for just £1million.

Ambrose joins a long list of youngsters purchased by Robson as the veteran boss looks to win the one big trophy that has evaded him – the Premiership championship.

Robson has already returned to Portman Road to sign Kieron Dyer and Titus Bramble, but unlike the Ambrose snatch both were for realistic fees.

Jermaine Jenas and Craig Bellamy are two others who have boosted the lot of a club that made a record operating profit of more than £20m for the latest six-month period.

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This is in contrast to an Ipswich club £50m in debt and in administration – and forced to sell off the family silver.

Hermann Hreidrasson is today thinking over a £500,000 cut-price move to Portsmouth.

The Icelandic international defender cost £4.5m when signed from Wimbledon in 2000, and turned down a move to West Brom last autumn after the midland club agreed a £3.3m fee.

Town manager Joe Royle confirmed today that Ipswich are hoping to have Ambrose back on loan, and available for Saturday's First Division match at Gillingham.

The 19-year-old's move to the north east was completed last night, and Royle said: "We have to wait for confirmation from the authorities that we can use Darren.

"The player is up for it, and so are we. And Newcastle have no objection whatsoever."

Newcastle officials confirmed today that the fee is £1m, rising to £1.25m on appearances. Toon chairman Freddie Shepherd will, like Robson, be thinking it is Christmas to get a player of Ambrose's pedigree and potential at such a bargain price.

"We have been robbed," said Royle. "But this is the market value in the situation we are in. This is the bid we have received."

Ambrose has made a remarkable rise since making his league debut as a substitute at Arsenal last season.

He has scored 11 goals from midfield this season and won his first England Under-21 cap. He would have bolstered Ipswich for many years and it is no wonder many true Blue fans are up in arms.

The youngster has signed a five-year deal at St James Park – and now has a chance to play in the Champions' League and reach the very top.

But for the next couple of years - in an ideal world - he would possibly have preferred a place in Ipswich's first team rather than Newcastle's reserves.

Even though the transfer window closed in January, Ipswich are classed to be in distress because of their administration – so allowing the deal to go through.

Whether Ambrose will be made available to Ipswich again remains to be seen. It is a ticklish one, with other clubs fighting for a play-off place unlikely to accept the plea lightly.

It is a new situation, and one that could well go against Town at a time when results on the field have never been so paramount.

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