Football: Ruddock transfer to Liverpool called off: Tottenham defender pulls out of Anfield deal over cash dispute

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NEIL RUDDOCK'S pounds 2.5m transfer to Liverpool was sensationally called off last night after a furious row with Tottenham over money.

The player's agent, Eric Hall, confirmed that the deal which the Liverpool manager, Graeme Souness, believed he had sealed earlier in the day had been put on ice and Ruddock travelled back to London with Hall insisting: 'The deal is off. Money is owed to Neil by Tottenham - the club is in breach of contract.'

Hall spoke out after the Tottenham chairman, Alan Sugar revealed on television that the deal had hit a snag. Speaking on Carlton Television's 'Sport in Question', Sugar admitted that the deal was in danger of collapsing, saying: 'He was sold and then he wasn't sold. There's been some technical hitch down our way. As I understand it he wants to go and our manager agreed terms with Liverpool. The drawback is that signing-on fees, goodwill fees, call it what you like, are in dispute.'

Hall said that under the terms of his contract Ruddock had been entitled to a sum of money on 1 July, but this has not been paid.

'Neil only wants what he is due legally. Tottenham are making nearly pounds 2m profit on him and surely they should do the decent thing and pay up. If Tottenham pay him his due then he will go to Liverpool.'

'We are not being blackmailed by any club,' Hall insisted. 'Neil is very, very angry, but if he has to go back to Tottenham then he will. If he is well enough to train tomorrow then he will.'

Ruddock, 25, had been unsettled at Tottenham since the departure of Terry Venables and attempts at a reconciliation by the new manager, Ossie Ardiles, failed so the club reluctantly acceded to his request to go. He joined Tottenham from Southampton a year ago for pounds 750,000 and the South Coast club were expecting to benefit by pounds 350,000 as part of the deal agreed with Liverpool.

Ruddock's refusal to leave Tottenham, unless the cash dispute was settled, could also throw the proposed transfer of Colin Calderwood from Swindon Town to White Hart Lane into doubt.

Up until last weekend, Souness had still hankered after signing another central defender, John Scales, but when Wimbledon refused to budge on their pounds 3.5m asking price, the Liverpool manager switched his attention to Ruddock. The Londoner had wasted no time in accepting the Merseysiders' five- year terms to the obvious chagrin of their former manager, Kenny Dalglish, whose bid to take the player to Ewood Park had also been accepted. As last week with Roy Keane, Blackburn Rovers suffered rejection. One player who will definitely be going to Liverpool is Nigel Clough and they will discover at a tribunal how much they must pay for the England player, whom Nottingham Forest value at pounds 2.3m.

Trevor Francis, the Sheffield Wednesday manager, who disappointed Blackburn when he changed his mind about selling them Paul Warhurst, has now disillusioned Everton with whom he had agreed a pounds 1m fee for Mark Bright. Nestor Fabbri, the Argentine World Cup player, is training with Birmingham City with a view to a pounds 500,000 transfer.