TOWN today rejected a £1m-plus bid from Premier League Blackburn Rovers for star striker Jon Stead.
The sensational news was confirmed mid-morning by manager Peter Jackson and Stead will lead an attack looking for a seventh straight win at Bristol Rovers tomorrow (3.00).
Supporters will be overjoyed, although Blackburn or any other top-flight club have until noon on Monday to avoid closure of the transfer window.
It is understood Rovers were immediately discussing an improved offer, while Sunderland are poised to up their earlier £800,000 bid - so interest in the 20-year-old is certainly not dead.
It is a massive show of Town's ambition this season and of Stead's loyalty to the club he joined as a nine-year-old, however, that he was on the bus which departed the McAlpine for a wet and windy south west today.
"We received a substantial bid from Blackburn for Steady but, after lengthy negotiations between myself, club owner Ken Davy, Andrew Watson and the board, I am delighted to say we have turned it down," said Jackson, who adds Stead and Martyn Booty to a squad seeking Town's best winning run in 22 years at the Memorial Ground.
"We have now turned down massive bids from Sunderland and Blackburn and I'm really pleased.
"I have always had excellent backing from Ken Davy and, while I know my hands are tied on a lot of things, he has backed me 110% from Day One.
"It would have been easy for him to say `yes, we're selling him,' but he has listened to me, taken all the issues into account and backed me all the way. No manager can ask more than that."
Stead's return is likely to be the only change and Jackson added: "It is important for everyone to focus on what is an important match.
"I will be telling the players the previous six matches count for nothing when it comes to business tomorrow, but the workrate, way we are going about things and commitment means we head into this battle full of confidence."
Sources suggest Town could have raked in over £1.2m if Stead had been successful in helping Rovers stay in the top flight.
Mr Davy said: "We are making the best judgments we can in a difficult situation and Jonathan is handling it like the professional that he is, with great credit.
"We have done this because we feel the overall balance is in the best interests of the club, but because of the timing, the situation is very fluid indeed."
I understand anyone taking Stead, either now or in the summer, will be asked for a significant sell-on clause as part of the deal.
Stead's shirt for tomorrow has already been printed up, however, and it's a black one! The club have taken delivery of a new set of black shirts, with a Yorkshire rose on the back and a new Prime Time logo.
Tomorrow's referee, André Marriner, is the official who sent off Efe Sodje at Bury.
Bristol Rovers - Miller, Boxall, Edwards, Barrett, Austin, Carlisle, Savage, Hyde, Williams, Matthews, Haldane or Agogo.
Town - (from): Senior, Holdsworth, Lloyd, Clarke, Sodje, Yates, Worthington, Fowler, Schofield, Brown, Stead, Newby, Edwards, Holland, Mattis, Mirfin, Gray, Booty.