Football: Ruddock move finally completed: Souness secures defensive reinforcement while Forest rue tribunal fee

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The Independent Online
THE pounds 2.5m transfer of Neil Ruddock from Tottenham Hotspur to Liverpool eventually went through yesterday, after last-minute haggling between the player and his previous employers over the payment of deferred bonuses put the deal on ice late on Monday night.

Ruddock maintained he was entitled to a signing-on fee for each of the three years of his contract at Tottenham, amounting to pounds 150,000, even though he had only served one year and was leaving the club at his own request. Tottenham felt he deserved nothing. A compromise was reached and the club have agreed to pay him his first year's bonus, which was due on 1 July.

'They have come to their senses,' Ossie Ardiles, the Tottenham manager, said with reference to Ruddock and his agent, Eric Hall. 'It was an unnecessary problem.'

Compromise was the order of the day and Liverpool were in the thick of it, a tribunal deciding, as is their custom, on a valuation for Nottingham Forest's Nigel Clough that was midway between those of the interested parties at pounds 2.275m.

The deal takes Graeme Souness's expenditure since rejoining Liverpool as manager in March 1991 to pounds 17.65m.

Souness, doubtless relieved not to have encountered any last minute snags, said: 'It could have been better, it could have been worse. If Nigel performs as he has done in recent seasons then it's good value for us.'

Forest were less happy with the figure. 'We were claiming pounds 3m,' Frank Clark, the Forest manager, said. 'Nigel definitely would have been worth that it he had been under contract.'

Forest concluded the signing of Des Little, 22, a right-back from Swansea City, for pounds 375,000, while Tottenham secured Colin Calderwood from Swindon, though his fee will also be decided by a tribunal. Swindon, in turn, signed Luc Nijholt, Motherwell's 31-year-old Dutch defender, for whom a fee has not been fixed.

David Webb, the Brentford manager, also came away from a tribunal feeling aggrieved yesterday after being told that he is likely to receive pounds 350,000 from Wimbledon for Gary Blissett, his prolific striker. 'It's not as much as I expected,' Webb said. 'It's always awkward if you go to a conditional tribunal. He's a cheap player at today's prices.'

Joe Kinnear had bid pounds 150,000 for Blissett, who will be given the chance to resume his prosperous Griffin Park partnership with Dean Holdsworth. Wimbledon also bought Gary Kimble, a left-back, from soul brothers, Cambridge United, for pounds 175,000.

David Phillips, Norwich City's Welsh international, has been put on a weekly contract after failing to agree a new deal. He wants to return to the Midlands. Everton are back in the black to the tune of pounds 991,444 after heavy losses in the last two seasons, while Aston Villa's turnover has exceeded pounds 10m. Villa declared an operating profit of pounds 3.2m but there was a net loss of pounds 191,000 after transfers. Gate receipts, with attendances averaging 29,594, reached pounds 5m.

Crucial day for Marseille,

Coca-Cola Cup draw, page 33

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