Pompey will have to wait for half of O'Neil's fee

Stuart O'Keefe. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey midfielder will relish facing former club

POMPEY will get only £2.5m up front for Gary O'Neil from Middlesbrough.

The long-serving midfielder swapped Fratton Park for the Riverside Stadium after sealing a deadline day switch to Pompey's Premier League rivals.

Although a late problem with the player's medical threatened to scupper the deal, the clubs renegotiated the 5m transfer with Boro paying just 2.5m up front and the rest tied to appearances.

It is not known how many games O'Neil must play for the Blues to get the rest of the fee.

John Mac, the former Pompey midfielder's representative, brokered the contract details on his client's behalf on Friday evening as the two clubs agreed the shock transfer.

Although the size of the transfer fee was officially undisclosed, it is believed Boro have made a 2.5m down payment and pledged another 2.5m based on appearances.

While it seems that some of the details had to be renegotiated after the player's medical examination, Mac insists the deal was never in jeopardy and that the total fee remained unchanged, despite suggestions the price had dropped after the late hitch.

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate confirmed an MRI scan had raised fears after O'Neil's summer ankle surgery.

Mac said: 'Things had to be restructured between the clubs, but it did not mean Middlesbrough will pay less than 5m for him – in fact they will end up paying slightly more on appearances.

'If they (Middlesbrough) had offered less than 5m, he'd have been sent back – it's as simple as that. There is no way he would have gone for less than 5m.

'Pompey had three other clubs prepared to pay that amount.'

Despite rumours the transfer was teetering on the brink of collapse, Mac insisted it simply took time for the details to be ironed out.

He said: 'We were not party to everything that went on.

'But from our point of view, it went smoothly.

'We live in a 15-minute world where people want everything done instantly.

'It doesn't always work like that and a transfer is a complicated business.'

Fans are divided over whether Pompey have got good value for money.

Mason Willis, 24, from Leigh Park said: 'I was really disappointed to see him go.

'He's shown loyalty to the club, but that doesn't seem to be worth anything these days.

'I think it's a fair-enough price if the player wanted to leave, but I'm surprised that Pompey sold him.

'If you look at the fact that Thierry Henry went for 16m, I'd say a fee rising to 5m is fair.

'I've read that Harry needed to get some money back after spending quite a lot in the summer.

'But you have to trust the manager. He doesn't get it wrong very often.'

Supporter John Cameron, 37, from Warblington said: 'I think it was a bad move for the club to sell Gary O'Neil – and I haven't met anyone yet who thinks it was right.

'I think it's upset the balance of the team and Middlesbrough have got a young English midfielder for a very cheap price. He's given the club great service and he proved he wanted to play for this club.'

What's your view? Sign on or register on this page to submit a comment to the website or click here to send an e-mail. Please tell us who you are and where you live.