Championship side Bristol City have pulled off one of the coups of the transfer season thus far, landing free agent keeper David James.
The England international had been the subject of interest from Celtic and Sunderland after leaving Portsmouth after four seasons at Fratton Park, but he has snubbed their interest in favor of a move to the Premier League promotion contenders. James, who will turn 40 on Sunday, has signed a one-year deal with an option for an additional year with the Robins, who finished 10th in the Championship last season.
Steve Coppell’s side conceded 65 goals last season, the highest total of any team in the top half of the Championship table, and the addition of James will significantly bolster the Robins’ chances to make a return to the top flight after three decades.
The move will come as a surprise to many, but the ambition of the club was a driving factor in James’ decision to make a return to the Championship, where he last played with West Ham for a little more than half of the 2003/04 season before moving to Manchester City.
“I’ve had offers to stay in the Premier League but it is more important that I play football – which I love – for the right club and be a family man.
“I had a long conversation with the chairman Steve Lansdown yesterday and I liked what he said about the club and his ambition. I know all about the plans for a new stadium and desire to win promotion to the Premier League.
“The club is ambitious and that’s what I am. The South West has not had a club in the Premier League and that needs to change.”
James has already passed his medical and will be presented to the club’s supporters prior to tomorrow’s friendly at Ashton Gate against Blackpool, and he will be available to take part in the club’s season opener against Millwall on 7 August.