Blackpool have upped the ante in the fight for Joel Ward’s signature by submitting a written offer for the Portsmouth right-back.
Leeds United’s bid to sign Ward is hanging by a thread after Blackpool made a late move to exploit the impasse which has so far prevented United manager Neil Warnock from completing the transfer.
A deal to bring Ward to Elland Road appeared to be on the cards a week ago but Leeds are in danger of missing out on the defender with several sources suggesting the club have been slow to finance a fee of £400,000.
Warnock met with Ward for talks at Thorp Arch on May 9, some 10 days ago, and the 22-year-old is one of his main targets, but Ipswich Town, Burnley and Crystal Palace have also held talks with him after agreeing a fee with Portsmouth’s administrators.
The delay in finalising a sale has allowed Blackpool – one of two teams involved in today’s Championship play-off final – to join the bidding for a sought-after player.This afternoon’s clash with West Ham United at Wembley was set to decided whether Blackpool would be able to entice Ward with the offer of Premier League football next season.
His situation is likely to come to a head next week amid worries that a number of interested clubs will walk away from the table without decisive progress. The YEP understands that Ward favours a switch to Elland Road but Leeds are under intense pressure to close out the transfer and secure Warnock’s second summer signing.
The United boss spent around £500,000 to bring in centre-back Jason Pearce at the start of this month but the loss of Ward would be a blow at an early stage of the summer.
Warnock again stressed the need for quick additions to a threadbare squad yesterday, saying: “It’s a long summer but it’s so important to keep things moving.”
Meanwhile United’s Championship rivals Leicester City have completed the signing of former FC Halifax Town striker Jamie Vardy from Fleetwood for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region £1million.
The 25-year-old joins the Foxes on a three-year contract after firing the Cod Army to the Blue Square Bet Premier title with 34 goals this season and becomes the most expensive purchase from a non-league club.
City boss Nigel Pearson said: “There were a number of clubs vying to secure Jamie’s signature, so it’s very pleasing that we have been able to bring him in.
“He will definitely help to take us forward. He has built an excellent reputation for himself through the goals he has scored at non-league level and I have no doubt he will successfully make the step up to the Championship.”
Vardy made his senior debut for Stocksbridge in 2007 before joining Halifax three years later. He strengthened his reputation with 27 goals that season before joining Fleetwood.
lPortsmouth’s former owner Balram Chainrai has made an offer to buy back the stricken club.
The offer, from Chainrai’s company Portpin, is the only one Pompey’s administrators PKF have received but, if it is accepted by creditors, the club could be out of administration within six weeks.
Administrator Trevor Birch said: “PKF has not received bids from any other potential buyers and we do not expect any new bidders to emerge before the club runs out of money.
“We’ve made it clear from the start that a new owner would need to demonstrate that it cannot only fund a Company Voluntary Agreement that is acceptable to creditors, but also cover the club’s ongoing operating losses.”