Football: Norwich's last-second Ekoku deal

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The Independent Online
HAVING returned to the top of the Premier League the previous night, Norwich City yesterday cornered the transfer market when their pounds 500,000 purchase of the Bournemouth striker, Efan Ekoku, was the only major deal on the quietest deadline day's trading in memory.

Ekoku registered 'with just 10 seconds to spare' before the 5pm cut-off, according to the Norwich chairman, Robert Chase, as his club went on another last-minute shopping spree. Mark Robins, their pounds 800,000 capture from Manchester United, was the final transfer before the launch of the FA Premier League and if Ekoku makes as good an impression, Mike Walker, the Canaries' manager, will consider it sound business.

Ekoku, a pounds 90,000 buy from non-league Sutton United three years ago, could make his debut for Norwich in their next fixture at home to their championship rivals, Manchester United, on 5 April. The Manchester-born 25-year-old has the prospect of leaping from the Second Division to sharing in a Premier League title in a matter of six weeks.

One of the fastest players in the lower divisions, he was also the subject of a late bid from Leeds United. The Bournemouth manager, Tony Pulis, said: 'It's vital to bring in money because this club is in intensive care. I would have loved to turn down the offer, but the club must come first and we can't afford to turn down any bid for any of our players. Efan has the ability to be a great success at the highest level. He has a special talent, able to produce something out of nothing, and defenders only have to take their eye off him for a second and he will strike.'

Other movement was slow, reflecting the state of a market which, a few major deals aside, has been in a depressed state throughout the winter. No other Premier League side spent as much as a penny.

Nottingham Forest finally decided to withdraw their interest in Stan Collymore, with Southend United insisting on a payment of pounds 2m up front. Vic Jobson, the Southend chairman, said he was disappointed with the way the senior club had conducted negotiations: 'Ronnie Fenton, the assistant manager, said Mr Clough no longer fancied the deal. Then they came back this morning asking to have the player on loan, which I thought was laughable.'

Brian Clough, with characteristic disdain, commented: 'I will think about who we are going to recruit only when I have my feet up in the sun this summer.' Collymore admitted his disappointment at the collapse of the move but the powerful striker, who has been a revelation since a pounds 150,000 move from Crystal Palace in November, said: 'I've never expressed any desire to leave Southend and although going to Forest would have been a once-in-a-lifetime move, it's out of my hands.'

Sheffield United took the former Manchester United goalkeeper, Jim Leighton, on loan from Dundee and Everton released Kenny Sansom, the former England defender, on loan to Brentford. They are his seventh club and he makes his debut tomorrow against Swindon whose promotion rivals, Portsmouth, spent pounds 100,000 on the Torquay winger Paul Hall. On his way out of Old Trafford was Danny Wallace, to Millwall on loan.

YESTERDAY'S TRANSFERS: Efan Ekoku Bournemouth to Norwich (pounds 500,000 *); Mike Flynn Preston to Stockport (pounds 125,000); Paul Hall Torquay to Portsmouth (pounds 100,000); David Reeves Bolton to Notts County (pounds 80,000); John Francis Cambridge United to Burnley (pounds 70,000); Kevin Bartlett Notts County to Cambridge United (pounds 60,000); Tony Daws Scunthorpe to Grimsby (pounds 50,000); Mark Shail Yeovil to Bristol City (pounds 45,000*); Stuart Storer Bolton to Exeter (pounds 25,000); Ian Thompstone Halifax to Scunthorpe (pounds 15,000); Gavin Maguire Portsmouth to Millwall (tribunal); Chris Greenman Coventry to Peterborough (free).

* plus increments depending on appearances.

LOANS: Andy Beasley Mansfield to Bristol Rovers; Ian Bowling Lincoln to Bradford City; Mark Smith Notts County to Chesterfield; Danny Wallace Manchester Utd to Millwall; Mark Cooper Fulham to Huddersfield; Adrian Mike Manchester City to Bury; Kenny Sansom Everton to Brentford; Steve Banks West Ham to Gillingham; Jon Davidson Preston to Chesterfield; Tony Ellison Darlington to Hartlepool; Paul Fitzpatrick Birmingham to Bury; Andy Hunt Newcastle to WBA; Phil Kite Sheffield Utd to Stockport; Jim Leighton Dundee to Sheffield Utd; John Byrne Millwall to Brighton; James Kelly Wolves to Walsall; Darran Rowbotham Birmingham to Hereford; Robbie Turner Notts County to Shrewsbury; Alex Mathie Morton to Port Vale; Leigh Palin Partick to Halifax; Peter Beadle Tottenham to Bournemouth; Tony Gallimore Stoke to Carlisle; Vaughan Jones Bristol Rovers to Bath; Darren Oxbrow Barnet to Kettering; Harvey Lim Gillingham to Kettering; John Williams Cardiff to Yeovil; Trevor Aylott Gillingham to Wycombe; Hakan Hayrettin Barnet to Wycombe; Geoff Cooper Barnet to Wycombe; Jurgen Sommer Luton to Wycombe; Rob Peters Brentford to Woking; Paul Kelly Fulham to Woking; Mark Holman Crystal Palace to Welling.

Transfer overview, page 36

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