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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Saints land Hall
By Stuart Roach

New Southampton signing Fitz Hall
Hall was sold on Southampton
Southampton have beaten Premiership rivals Everton to the signing of Oldham's highly-rated central defender Fitz Hall.

The cash-strapped Latics accepted Saints' offer, believed to be 250,000 and roughly 100,000 less than the bid tabled by Everton, for the 22-year-old Londoner.

"He is a talented young player who will add to the strength of our squad," said Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe.

"There were a few clubs in for him so we are delighted he has chosen to come here."

But the news infuriated Oldham boss Iain Dowie, who was left in the dark over a player departure for the second time in a week following Chris Armstrong's 100,000 move to Sheffield United.

"We have lost another player and that is a big blow considering the fee he has gone for," Dowie told this website.

"I wasn't aware of the deal and I already had a higher offer from another club, but the clubs are in agreement and Fitz was sold on what he saw.

"Southampton is a great club and one I know well and Fitz has a chance to secure his family's future.

He is not far off being ready for Premiership football now
Oldham manager Iain Dowie

"He has been a pawn in this game and is a close personal friend of mine, so I knew his situation.

"But it is disappointing when you are building for a season and you are not part of the discussion loop."

Though Oldham, desperate for a financial lifeline as they face the very real threat of liquidation, would have made more money from Everton, Hall himself favoured a move south.

And Dowie believes that both offers represented an outstanding chance to fulfil the promise he has shown at Boundary Park.

"They are both great clubs with outstanding managers who would help develop him," Dowie said.

"He is not far off being ready for Premiership football now and if I was ever fortunate enough to get a Premiership job I would want Fitz Hall in the side.

"He's an outstanding player - one of the best I have worked with - and he will develop and learn and get better and better I'm sure of it."



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