Royle resigned to player sales

IPSWICH Town have agreed a dramatic double sale of Darren Ambrose and Hermann Hreidarsson in a bid to ease the cash crisis with boss Joe Royle saying: "The survival of the club is all important.

By Dave Allard

IPSWICH Town have agreed a dramatic double sale of Darren Ambrose and Hermann Hreidarsson in a bid to ease the cash crisis with boss Joe Royle saying: "The survival of the club is all important."

Nineteen-year-old midfielder Darren Ambrose travelled to Newcastle last night and is expected to sign for Sir Bobby Robson's Magpies today.

Twenty-seven-year-old defender Hreidarsson, who will not be fit for play for at least three weeks due to a gashed leg, is ready to join a Portsmouth club set for the Premiership next season. He is likely to complete his deal early next week.

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The transfer fee for Ambrose is believed to be in the region of £2million, while the figure for Hreidarsson may be around a million, or even just under.

The low fees will stagger supporters, but these are desperate times at Portman Road with the club in voluntary administration and overall debts soaring above £50m.

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In early February, Newcastle made a bid in the region of £3m for both Ambrose and teenager striker Darren Bent. This bid was rejected by the club's administrators.

England Under-21 international Ambrose was expected to watch Newcastle play Blackburn at Ewood Park today after a medical examination and signing ceremony.

Newcastle say they would be prepared to let Ambrose come back to play at Portman Road on loan for the rest of the season.

However, clubs in administration are not allowed to take players on loan and there would need to be special permission from the Football League for this to happen.

Because Ipswich are classified as a club in distress, Newcastle could play Ambrose now if they wished, but the senior squad is so strong that he is unlikely to be required at present.

Town manager Royle, who has lifted the Blues from near bottom of the table to seventh, said: "It's a sad loss, but not totally unexpected. We have now got to get on with it, we know. It will not affect our determination to go for a play-off place.

"The survival of the club is all important and we must accept it."

Town chairman David Sheepshanks said: "These sales are necessary in our current situation and the matter was largely out of our hands. Supporters will be disappointed about the need to sell when we are so close to the play-offs.

"No matter how much we wish it were different, regrettably financial situations only work on certainty and not hope value. We still have a strong team and hope that, in the face of adversity, we can still challenge strongly for a play-off place."

Ambrose broke into the side at the start of the season and has scored 11 goals.

Hreidarsson became Town's record buy in August 2000 with the Blues paying £5m. He has made 128 appearances.

With the transfer deadline not until next Thursday, it is possible that there could be another big sale.

Skipper Matt Holland, the 28-year-old whose representatives have had talks with Charlton, remains a big target for Alan Curbishley's south London side.

Personal terms are an undoubted stumbling block for a player who rejected a £4m move to Aston Villa in the summer due to personal terms and the fact that he and his family are happily settled in East Anglia.

Hreidarsson turned down a £3m move to West Bromwich Albion for similar reasons in August.

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