Deadline-beating deal revealed

The two agents at the heart of Rob Earnshaw's £2.75 million move to Norwich City today gave an extraordinary, blow-by-blow account of their star client's dramatic switch to Norfolk.

The two agents at the heart of Rob Earnshaw's £2.75 million move to Norwich City today gave an extraordinary, blow-by-blow account of their star client's dramatic switch to Norfolk.

In a hugely unusual and encouragingly open move, David Baldwin and Chris Bromage reveal how Earnshaw's relationship with Baggies' boss Bryan Robson had broken down “over the course of six months”. From there the pair reveal exactly when the Canaries' stepped up their pursuit of the 24-year-old Welsh international and the last-gasp rush to beat Tuesday night's midnight deadline as the January transfer window prepared to slam shut with Earnshaw's signature yet to be added to his three-and-a-half-year Carrow Road deal and Norwich chief executive Neil Doncaster stuck in traffic on the M4 en route to tying up the deal at the Madejski Stadium.

Revealing that the Baggies indicated that they would be prepared to allow Earnshaw to leave if potential buyers were prepared to match Bryan Robson's £3.5 million valuation, Baldwin revealed it was not until January 20 that the Canaries entered the field - having been baulked by Cardiff City owner Sam Hammam in their pursuit of Cameron Jerome,

“On about 20 January I spoke to the chief scout (Alan Wood) at Norwich who asked me about the situation,” said Baldwin.

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“Norwich desperately wanted Rob but at that point thought the money was way too much,” Baldwin added, as the pair revealed all to the BBCSport website.

Dean Ashton's £7.25 million exit to West Ham United changed the situation again; as did Hammam's continuing intransigence at Ninian Park.

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Not the Norwich were the only deal in town. Earnshaw rejected a potential swap move to Southampton as “one he didn't fancy”, while “three or four” others were very keen - albeit if the price ever dropped.

“We got to a situation a week ago where we thought nothing was going to happen and we would have to wait until the next transfer window. It was at that point Norwich stepped up their interest,” said Baldwin.

With a fee agreed - £2.75 million down and reaching Robson's required £3.5 million on appearances and promotion - now for the real drama, the personal terms and the medical.

With the clock ticking towards that midnight deadline and the various parties in four corners of the land - Earnshaw's car was at The Hawthorns as he boarded the Baggies' team bus for their trip to Charlton Athletic while Bromage was in Leeds - it was time to burn the midnight oil.

“It was all done on the telephone - talks went on until 1am on Tuesday,” said Baldwin, a fact today confirmed by the person on the other end of that early morning call, City chief executive Neil Doncaster.

“There was a problem as the only time they could get a scan in Norwich was 6am the next day - and we hadn't got the rest agreed at that time,” said Baldwin.

The rest of Earnshaw's personal terms were agreed between 9am and 1.30pm on the day of the Reading game; a medical was arranged in London for that afternoon with Earnshaw's Welsh international team-mate Carl Robinson telling Baldwin that “Norwich's medicals are by far the most thorough he had ever done”, according to Bromage.

Further changes to the first draft contract ensured that everything wasn't finally agreed until 3.30pm.

“Chris had gone through the deal with Rob and he was happy, so Chris signed the deal at 3.45pm and faxed it to the club,” said Baldwin.

Earnshaw boarded his second team bus in 24-hours and headed off down the M4 as his former Baggies' team-mates headed south to The Valley. The two final pieces in the jigsaw were getting Earnshaw's signature on the deal and the paperwork faxed to the Football Association before midnight.

“Neil (Doncaster) was trying to get to the Madejski Stadium but was stuck in traffic,” said Baldwin. “Rob eventually signed the deal at half-time in the game.

“Rob had already done some photographs with Nigel (Worthington) and it was pretty much a done deal - we were just waiting from confirmation from the club.

“Neil Doncaster sent me a text message to confirm it - he was registered at 10.53pm.”

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