Pay-off dispute could stall Ranieri's return to Spain

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Claudio Ranieri's return to Valencia could be delayed after Chelsea said their former coach is not entitled to a pay-off if he walks straight into another job.

Claudio Ranieri's return to Valencia could be delayed after Chelsea said their former coach is not entitled to a pay-off if he walks straight into another job.

Valencia's director general Manuel Llorente, who met Ranieri in London on Tuesday, confirmed yesterday that the Spanish champions had agreed personal terms with their former coach, but added that it was "dependent on him finishing his relationship with Chelsea".

Peter Kenyon, Chelsea's chief executive, said that the club had every intention of honouring the terms of Ranieri's contract, after he was sacked on Monday. But "by the terms of the contract" it was possible he would not be paid any compensation at all if he went straight into another job. Ranieri is hoping to receive £6m plus bonuses for last season's performances.

That job will not be at Tottenham Hotspur, who yesterday moved to discount suggestions that Ranieri was on their shortlist following a meeting, attended by the Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, at a London hotel also on Tuesday.

However, Ranieri said: "I am very pleased with them [Spurs] and had a meeting yesterday. They have a very good project, but Valencia are my former team and, if it is possible, I would come back in Spain. There is an opportunity with Valencia, but I want to wait and look at what happens with Chelsea to honour my contract." It may be, he added, that he will have to "take a break" until the disagreement with Chelsea is resolved.

Ranieri's agent Jon Smith said: "I heard what Peter Kenyon said. If that means payment of all the monies and this season's bonuses that are due under the balance of contract, without deductions, then there is no dispute."

However, that is clearly not what Kenyon meant and the row is set to drag on. Kenyon added: "Part of contract is about him mitigating the costs, which is a normal type of clause. What that means, in layman's terms, is that if he doesn't get another job in the next three years, which is his contract term, we will continue to pay him."

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