Roberts sale a good deal, insists Wigan boss

July 4, 2006

Wigan boss Paul Jewell felt the time was right for striker Jason Roberts to leave the JJB Stadium.

Roberts joined Lancashire rivals Blackburn on Monday, signing a four-year contract for an undisclosed fee, although with Rovers understood to have paid £3million.

Although Jewell was full of praise for Roberts' contribution for the Latics, scoring 43 goals in 103 appearances over two and a half years, a parting of the ways had become inevitable.

Roberts recently burned his bridges when he said a new contract offer from Wigan was 'disrespectful', an accusation strongly refuted last week by chairman Dave Whelan who insisted there was no deal on the table.

With seemingly no way back, and after rejecting enquiries from Turkish club Besiktas and Coca-Cola Championship side West Brom, Roberts jumped at the chance to move to Ewood Park.

'Jason has been an important member of the team since the day he arrived and it's always a bit sad when you have to say goodbye to players,' said Jewell.

'But when the offer came in from Blackburn we felt it reflected his value and we gave him permission to speak to Mark Hughes.

'I'd like to thank Jason for his fantastic contribution for the club. He's never given anything less than 100% for me, and is a good professional who has had to fight hard in his career to earn a chance to play in the Premiership.

'However, I felt the time was right for a move for both parties and Blackburn's offer represents a good deal for Wigan in my mind.'

In hailing the transfer as 'a dream move', Roberts' arrival completed a dream day for Hughes as he also signed Francis Jeffers on a free transfer from Charlton.

With European football on the agenda for Blackburn next season, Roberts said: 'One of my goals as a footballer was to play in Europe regularly.

'So to play UEFA cup football this year will be a big thing for me, but I've got to work hard and try to get myself in the team.'

As for 25-year-old Jeffers, who has agreed a two-year contract that is 'heavily incentivised' according to Rovers chairman John Williams, his move represents another chance to resurrect a career blighted by injury in recent years.

'It has been a busy couple of days, but what a fantastic move for me - I can't wait,' said Jeffers.

'I spoke to a number of clubs, but once I spoke to Mark my mind was made up as to where I would go.

'I've had a difficult couple of years, but I've no doubt that I can do it and given a fair crack of the whip here I'm sure I can get back to my best and take this club forward.'