Cole and Mourinho answer allegations

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The Independent Online

Jose Mourinho and Ashley Cole will today both give testimonies to the lawyers gathering evidence for the Premier League inquiry into Chelsea's alleged illegal approach to the England international after Arsène Wenger renewed his attacks on the Stamford Bridge club.

Jose Mourinho and Ashley Cole will today both give testimonies to the lawyers gathering evidence for the Premier League inquiry into Chelsea's alleged illegal approach to the England international after Arsène Wenger renewed his attacks on the Stamford Bridge club.

The main witnesses in the inquiry will give their statements after allegations over the weekend that Cole's agent Jonathan Barnett initiated the meeting. The Chelsea manager is understood to have prepared a response in which he will allege that the meeting was set up at the behest of the player and his representative.

There is now not likely to be any dispute from Mourinho and the Chelsea hierarchy that the meeting took place, but the leaked allegations that Barnett was the instigator have put the player and his agent on to the defensive. Also crucial today will be whether Mourinho discloses whether a salary offer was made to Cole, although Chelsea are likely to deny that discussions reached that point.

Barnett has dismissed the allegations that he set up the meeting as "ludicrous" but there is now an increasing sense that Chelsea are isolating the agent in the hope of minimising the damage to the club.

Wenger stepped up his attack on Chelsea after his side's FA Cup quarter-final victory over Bolton at the weekend, when he accused them of "arrogance" over their meeting with Cole at the Royal Park Hotel on 27 February.

The Arsenal manager said: "I just think they are rude," Wenger said. "I am just surprised it was in the centre of London. Why not have it in the middle of the M25? At least everyone would know.

"It hints at arrogance, it says, 'We are above everything and we will just do whatever we want to do'."

The Premier League lawyers are assembling the evidence in order to present it to a three-man independent commission that they have yet officially to appoint. Barnett confirmed that Cole would give evidence today.

* Jose Antonio Reyes has urged Real Madrid to make contact with Arsenal if they wish to sign him. "Anyone would want to play for a club as big as that, but for that to happen Madrid have to speak to Arsenal," Reyes said.

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