Cardiff City have suffered a major blow after Thomas Ince rejected the chance to join them in an £8m deal and elected to commit his short-term future to Blackpool instead. Ince's father, Paul, who is manager at Blackpool, broke the news to Cardiff on Friday, bringing an end to a saga that the Premier League club had already started to fear would end in disappointment.
Both clubs had agreed an £8m fee, with a further £500,000 to follow in add-ons, a substantial sum of money for a player who has never played in the Premier League and who has only 12 months remaining on his contract.
Ince travelled to the Welsh capital on Monday with his father. He visited the club's training facilities and was given a tour of the city. Ince and his agent agreed personal terms on a lucrative long-term contract, and the player spoke with Malky Mackay, the club's manager, about his potential role in the team.
Cardiff felt the discussions were positive and were under the impression that the England Under-21 international was keen to sign. Yet doubts started to creep in when 48 hours passed without contact. On Wednesday afternoon Cardiff were told that Ince needed a further 48 hours to decide. By that point Cardiff began to suspect the transfer was not going to happen and that Ince would play under his father for another season in the Championship. Those fears were confirmed on Friday.
A statement on the Cardiff website said: "Cardiff City Football Club can confirm that Blackpool midfielder Thomas Ince will not be joining the Bluebirds. Having agreed a fee with Blackpool FC towards the end of June and with the player and agent happy with personal terms offered, Blackpool manager and Thomas' father Paul confirmed on Friday that, due to the recent birth of Thomas' first child this week, the player didn't want to leave his family or the Seasiders at this stage of his life."
Blackpool now find themselves in a strange situation. They have retained the services of their most prized asset but run the risk of losing him for nothing next summer, unless they receive another bid that meets their asking price and the player is willing to move. The situation is complicated further because Liverpool, whom Ince left in 2011 to join Blackpool in a £500,000 deal, are due 35% of any sell-on fee.