City agree £7.25m deal for Ashton

CHRIS LAKEY Norwich City have accepted a bid of more than £7m from West Ham for star striker Dean Ashton.


Norwich City have accepted a bid of more than £7m from West Ham for star striker Dean Ashton.

The announcement, made on Norwich's website on Sunday morning, ends weeks of speculation which reached fever pitch on Saturday when the 22-year-old missed the home defeat by Watford, because of a groin injury.

West Ham's bid is worth a total of £7.25m. The London club will pay a guaranteed sum of £7m, plus a further £250,000 if certain conditions are achieved. In addition Norwich have secured a sell-on clause guaranteeing them 15pc of any profit should Ashton be transferred from West Ham in the future.

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Ashton, signed by Norwich from Crewe in January last year, was due to travel to London on Sunday to discuss personal terms with the Premiership club. Subject to reaching agreement and passing a medical he is expected to be unveiled as a West Ham player when the Hammers take on Fulham on Monday. Crewe will receive £1.5m as par of the deal that brought Ashton to Carrow Road.

The news comes 24 hours after the Canaries issued a statement on their web site denying that any deal had been done. But chief executive Neil Doncaster said the bid was received from his West Ham counterpart on Saturday and was accepted after talks with manager Nigel Worthington and members of the City Board, around 7pm Saturday evening.

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“We're always committed to trying to keep our best players at the club, but the size of today's bid coupled with Dean's desire to make the move happen meant that after talking it through with the Board and the lad himself we've decided to accept this offer,” Worthington told the Canaries website.

“If the move does go through, I'd like to place on record my thanks to Dean for his contribution and his professionalism during his time at Norwich and wish him all the very best in his future career. Meanwhile, our round-the-clock efforts to strengthen our squad for the crucial months ahead continue.”

Ashton paid tribute to the support he has received from City fans.

“I have had a great year with Norwich and I would like to sincerely thank the fans and everyone I have worked with at Colney and Carrow Road,” he said. “West Ham are a big club, I am ambitious and at the end of the day the chance of a swift step up to the Premiership is too good to turn down.

“I spoke to Nigel and the Board and told them I wanted to pursue this opportunity. I'd like to thank Norwich for understanding that and allowing myself and my representative to talk to West Ham.”

Doncaster said: “Yesterday and over the past few weeks there has been intense speculation about bids we were supposed to have received for Dean. Yesterday we received a bid worth a total of £7.25m from West Ham, plus a sell-on. That's by far the largest bid we have received and a club record by some distance, and after full consultation with the manager, the board and the player himself, it was decided it was in the best long-term interests of the club to accept this offer.

“We have said all along that as soon as there was actual news to announce we would do so.”

City's previous record transfer fee received was £5m for Chris Sutton, who left for Blackburn in July 1994, and for Craig Bellamy, who left for Coventry in August, 2000.

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