The Daily Mail says Bruce's £3million switch to embarrassed Wigan was delayed last night after Birmingham refused to let their manager go because of a row over a £225,000 image rights payment.
Birmingham are blocking the deal because they insist they are owed £225,000 in image rights paid in advance to Bruce. His basic annual salary of £850,000 was topped up by a £250,000 loyalty bonus last summer and a further £300,000 a year for image rights.
The last of these three payments runs from September 2007 to September 2008 but Birmingham paid Bruce in advance, which is why they believe he should pay back the £225,000 covering the period after his switch to Wigan.
Bruce claims that, because Birmingham have received £3m in compensation, he should not need to reimburse his former employers. However, it seems the St Andrew's board, who will not chase him for any of the loyalty bonus, are keen to recoup as much of the image rights money as possible.
Bruce, whose salary offer at Wigan is closer to £2m, was at home yesterday in Hale, Cheshire, and unable to elaborate, but Birmingham have 'previous' in these situations, like the bitter transfer of Robbie Savage to Blackburn. Birmingham claimed the Wales midfielder owed them around £7,000 - two days' wages from his £25,000-a-week pay - when he moved north.