Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gray's Joy at Switch to Rovers

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gray's Joy at Switch to Rovers

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

Michael Gray was last night relishing the chance to revive his Premiership career after completing a free transfer to Blackburn.

The former Sunderland skipper put pen to paper at Ewood Park after Black Cats chairman Bob Murray persuaded Rovers to take over the remaining two-and-a-half years of his lucrative contract.

The move ends an unhappy time for the 29-year-old who, as Murray strived to deal with the crippling financial implications of relegation from the top flight last summer, was told he was surplus to requirements at the Stadium of Light.

Gray's departure, which was personally negotiated by Murray, will see the Wearsiders make major savings on their hefty wage-bill. And it could free up funds to enable manager Mick McCarthy to add to his promotion-seeking squad.

"We wish Michael all the best for the future," said the Sunderland chairman of a player who first joined the club as a trainee in 1990, having been released by Manchester United.

"He has been a loyal servant of this club for many years but this move will give him the opportunity to kick-start his career with a new challenge."

Gray, who made 411 senior appearances for his home town club following his league debut in 1992, was Sunderland's longest-serving player, and the only member of the Wearside squad to have appeared at Roker Park in the pre-Peter Reid era. Having twice helped the Black Cats to win promotion to the Premier- ship, Gray's time on Wearside has ended in an unfortunate manner. But a player who was capped three times by England while on the club's books was looking only to the future last night.

"This is an exciting move for me, not only because I'm joining a big club like Blackburn but also because it means that I will be playing in the Premiership again," said Gray, who could make his Rovers debut against Chelsea on Saturday.

"I'm really delighted with the move." That Gray was one of the highest-paid players at the Stadium of Light sealed his fate last summer but, despite the fact he was told he could leave, the Black Cats struggled to find a buyer. …

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