In the end it would appear that blood was thicker than water after BBC Radio Sheffield reported that the Blades had agreed a ?2 million fee with Scunthorpe United for their one-time Academy starlet Billy Sharp.
Blood and huge bundles of Australian cash.
For with United Plc owner Kevin McCabe away Down Under talking to investors about his ?850 million sale of the family-owned Scarborough Property Company this week, it was left to club chairman Terry Robinson to break the news this afternoon as the McCabe cash and Sharp's own red-and-white loyalties clinched the deal and sent the Canaries back to the drawing board for the third time after already seeing Charlton steal their transfer thunder this summer with the Addicks own ?2 million deal for Crewe's Luke Varney.
In fairness, at least they have a 'Plan C' and and a 'Plan D' up their sleeve in the shape of Southend United's Freddy Eastwood and Canary old-boy Jamie Cureton.
The only slight problem there is that Wolves, too, will now be beating a path to Southend's door leaving Shrimpers' chairman Ron Martin as potentially the biggest winner as he starts his own auction at ?2 million plus for the United striker.
“The player has indicated that we were his preferred choice, and our interest in the player shows that he's our preferred choice,” Robinson told BBC Radio Sheffield today, adding that there were just one or two final details to be tied up before the 21-year-old returned to Bramall Lane and thus ended City's long-standing interest in the player – along with that of both Wolves and a water-logged Sheffield Wednesday.
It now appears that Ian Ross and winger Jonathan Forte are set to move to Scunthorpe as part of the deal. Robinson also told the Press Association: “Everything has been agreed, we just have to formally conclude the deal with Scunthorpe.
“I can't disclose the length of his contract or the transfer fee at this stage, but we will be making a statement in due course.
“The news has only come out because he's told Sheffield Wednesday he's not going there and we've had to make a brief announcement.”
The bigger disappointment may actually be at Molineux where Wolves appeared to have long banked on the presence of both Sharp's strike pal Andy Keogh and ?30 million worth of Steve Morgan cash inevitably sealing the deal in their favour. Whatever Norwich might have hoped.
As late as yesterday, sources close to the deal still thought it a two-horse race between Norwich and Wolves. Sharp was genuinely impressed by his grand tour of Colney and Carrow Road. United were, even yesterday, only the dark horse.
But the best laid-plans of Messrs Mick McCarthy and chief executive Jez Moxey, alas, probably never bargained on the legal complexities of Morgan's ?10 takeover from the ruling Hayward family taking so long and the fact that McCabe suddenly found himself with ?850 million to spare.
“Billy Sharp has scored the goals in League One on a regular basis and we've got his playing partner here ? everyone knows they've got a great record,” McCarthy told the Express & Star overnight.
“So we have been interested to talk to him and I'm delighted we've got that permission,” added the Wolves chief.
“The fact that we've got Andy Keogh here could be the deciding factor in terms of him wanting to play. I know the thought of having the opportunity to play with him again appeals to Billy. And he's got a proven track record.”
A proven track record of being a Sheffield born-and-bred lad who made it clear last Christmas that he bore Blades no ill-will over their selling him to Scunthorpe for ?100,000 two years ago.
Given events of the last 24 hours – Sharp is understood to have all but agreed his home-coming in talks yesterday afternoon and may well have never even met the men from Molineux – that switch to Glanford Park was probably the best thing that could have happened to the lad as he took one step back to leap two forward.
He is also understood to have remained very close to Blades' Academy director, Ron Reid.
One other factor probably needs to be borne in mind – the whole Carlos Tevez affair.
Not knowing the bloke from Adam, it is not difficult to imagine the strong sense of grievance and injustice flowing through McCabe's mind at the moment if he is your traditional, pugnacious Yorkshire businessman – particularly if the Premier League arbitration panel are on the verge of upholding that original decision to merely fine West Ham United and not dock them the points Sheffield need to spare them from relegation.
Hell, in that case, may have no fury like a Blades Plc chairman scorned and with the family business sold, he can now come back and haunt the Premier League with an utter vengeance – led by returning Bramall Lane starlet Sharp.
Back in Norfolk and City chief Peter Grant wll now be weighing up the merits of slugging it out again with Wolves over Eastwood or else making an early move for Cureton where the Canaries have yellow-and-green blood on their side.
And while he might not be the youngest of the various options laid before Grant this summer – Cureton is 31 – the fact that remains that he is in the form of his life after smashing home 24 goals for the Us last season.
Even if the Layer Road club held out for the ?750,000 they have been seeking from Hull City among others, that would still leave Grant with a good ?1 million to spare from what would have been going Scunthorpe's way for Sharp.
Somewhere in all the mix lies Charlton Athletic who, at various points this summer, have been linked to Cureton – boss Alan Pardew had him at Reading – Eastwood and, of course, Norwich's existing predatory frontman, Robert Earnshaw.
Until Darren Bent finally exits for Spurs, the Addicks may need to bide their time – hence the growing sense of urgency.
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