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Smith Deal Called Off

by Colin Wood

“Stoke and Liverpool try to sort out League mystery over loan”

Tommy Smith will not join Stoke after all. The proposed month’s loan deal between Stoke City and Liverpool was called off in mysterious circumstances last night.

After speaking to Liverpool manager Bill Shankly from his private hospital ward last night, Stoke chief Tony Waddington said. “Having regard to all the circumstances the agreement between the two clubs has now been cancelled.” And he added: “We have decided to do this as it would not be fair to Liverpool. It was a tremendous gesture to agree in the first place to the loan.”

All day long the deal had been clouded in an atmosphere of confusion.

The tough Anfield defender signed on Tuesday to join injury-hit Stoke on a month’s loan. Yesterday afternoon Liverpool announced that the move was off because the Football League refused to accept a ‘quick release’ clause in the agreement.

Later, League secretary Alan Hardaker said in London: “The temporary transfer of Smith from Liverpool to Stoke has been completed.” And the man in the middle of it all, 28 year old Smith said: ”I am still in the dark. Of course I am still hopeful of joining Stoke and playing against Birmingham on Saturday. I shall be very disappointed if it doesn’t go through.”

The point on which the deal fell through was the question of a quick release so that Liverpool could recall the player if they so wished.

Shankly, when announcing that the deal had fallen through said: “The League wanted a provision that it would be a month before we could take our player back. We have three players injured at the moment so we could not do that.”

From League headquarters at St Annes there was a statement: “The position was that we received the transfer forms which stated a definite period of four weeks for the term of the loan with the proviso that Smith would return to Liverpool inside that period if they wanted him. The Management Committee decided they would not allow him to be loaned for a lesser period than the actual term stated.”

At Stoke, Waddington pointed to an instruction recently issued by the League to the effect that the Management Committee were aware of the practice of players returning to clubs within the period of the loan. It added that they did not prohibit this provided there was a special clause put in the agreement with the permission of the Management Committee.

And it said that in normal circumstances that permission would be granted.

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