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James fee agreed with Portsmouth

After earlier confirming that David James had a transfer request accepted - but stating Portsmouh would have to meet the clubs valuation, have stated that a fee has been agreed with Portsmouth and James is travelling south to agree terms and will surely be unveiled sometime tomorrow.

From the clubs perspective it is a sound 'business deal'. Effectively recouping your outlay on a 36 year old after two and a half seasons (admittedly excellent) service is not something that is achieved in most situations.

It is far from ideal timing but realistically the club had no choice but to grant the transfer request given the circumstances. If James was adamant that he wanted to move south for personal/family reasons and the club rejected the request, they would be left with an unhappy player for the final year of his contract and would surely see him leave for nothing next summer.
One area in which the club seem to blessed with prospects is between the sticks, and with Nicky Weaver apparantly ready to resurrect his career we have some depth in that position. However, we don't appear to have an undisputed 'number 1' which is why is seems certain Pearce will bring in Andreas Isaakson from Rennes - with the safety net of Weaver, Hart and Schmeichel if he doesn't pan out.

From James' perspective the deal also makes sense. At his age, a move to a side challenging for the title or Champions League is no longer a possibility and although Steve McLaren has yet to announce his first England squad his chance of reclaiming the starting position has also all but gone.

Whilst I have no doubt that we would extend his contract at the end of the season (assuming he didn't have a Seaman-esque season) but I doubt the three year deal reportedly on offer from Portsmouth would have been on the table from ourselves. I don't believe money would have been the issue as he was reputed to be one of the top earners at the club.

My feeling is that at the stage of his career James is now in, he is probably looking for a longer deal to take him upto retirement and at a club closer to his family (I believe that his children still live in the south) so it is perhaps understandable that he was looking for this move as there was no guarantee a similar offer would be on the table from anyone this time next year.

It will undoubtedly be a loss to the club as he performed superbly during his time with us, and for all the 'calamity' tag he came with has made less than a handful of erros that I can recall but from both the club and James' perspectives it is a move that ultimately makes sense.