Furious Spurs demand £10m from Chelsea over Arnesen

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The Independent Online

Tottenham Hotspur are threatening to sue Chelsea over the alleged illegal approach for their sporting director Frank Arnesen. Such is the level of anger at Spurs that the club's chairman Daniel Levy spent yesterday consulting lawyers about pursuing the matter in the civil courts.

Tottenham Hotspur are threatening to sue Chelsea over the alleged illegal approach for their sporting director Frank Arnesen. Such is the level of anger at Spurs that the club's chairman Daniel Levy spent yesterday consulting lawyers about pursuing the matter in the civil courts.

Arnesen, who has been suspended, has been told he may be held for the last two years of his contract on "gardening leave".

Spurs, who will hold a board meeting today to discuss the situation, must decide whether to make a formal complaint to the Premier League after claiming Chelsea breached the rule - U10 - governing the "inducing of employees". That could spark another inquiry and, so soon after the Ashley Cole "tapping-up" affair, lead to Chelsea forfeiting points next season.

That is unlikely to happen, although Spurs will be seeking £10m in compensation from Chelsea to secure Arnesen, who will not return to White Hart Lane, and head off a complaint. Spurs could have to settle for half that amount, but may insist on a "no poaching" promise from Chelsea to prevent players following Arnesen. "We have suffered a lot over this and intend to make Chelsea pay," said one Tottenham source.

Chelsea deny any wrongdoing and insist they made an "official approach" to speak to Arnesen. The 48-year-old Dane has been lined up as the "head of youth and scouting" at Stamford Bridge. "Chelsea have been in direct discussion with Tottenham for the last two weeks on this subject," the club said.

That statement was instantly disputed by Spurs who said that Chelsea had written to them on 21 May requesting they be allowed to talk to Arnesen. This letter was also copied to Arnesen, and Spurs said: "By definition, Frank was therefore approached prior to the club having had any chance to refuse permission."

Permission was refused and Spurs claim Chelsea had another approach rejected two days later, before Levy met Chelsea's chairman Bruce Buck at the Premier League chairmen's meeting last Friday. Tottenham said: "Our chairman made clear his disappointment at the approach and made clear his intentions to seek damages."

On the same day, Levy met with Arnesen when, sources say, it became clear "a deal had already been done with Chelsea". This led to Arnesen's suspension.

Spurs' lawyers know Chelsea will want to avoid an inquiry, having been fined £300,000 over the Cole affair and threatened with losing three points should they make an illegal approach to a player next season.

David Pleat, Spurs' former director of football, said Arnesen, who was earning £600,000 a year, was being "disloyal". "He is going for one reason," Pleat said. It appears Arnesen has been seduced by money, as his Chelsea role will not carry the same power.

Peter Leaver, the former Premier League chief executive, accused Chelsea of "breathtaking arrogance".

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