Chelsea braced for £1m fine over Cole 'tapping-up'

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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho, Peter Kenyon and Ashley Cole will not be present when the long-anticipated verdicts on the Arsenal player's tapping-up scandal are announced today by the Premier League's independent commission, which is expected to impose heavy fines.

Jose Mourinho, Peter Kenyon and Ashley Cole will not be present when the long-anticipated verdicts on the Arsenal player's tapping-up scandal are announced today by the Premier League's independent commission, which is expected to impose heavy fines.

Of the main characters involved in the now infamous meeting on 27 January at the Royal Park Hotel, only Cole's agent Jonathan Barnett, who has attended much of the process, is expected to be at the Premier League's Connaught Place headquarters.

Both parties, who have been told to attend at around 2pm, have requested a full explanation of the complex legal decision, which is expected to take around two hours to work through. The commission's chairman Sir Philip Otton began work on the document midway through last month and passed his version on to fellow commission members David Dent and Malcolm George to make corrections.

All sides have braced themselves for record six-figure fines, but the powers of the commission are wide-ranging. If it felt that Chelsea's offence was serious enough it could impose a transfer embargo or even consider a points deduction for next season.

Chelsea, who are likely to be represented by their chairman Bruce Buck, have been charged with breaking Rule K3, which forbids clubs from approaching players who are under contract elsewhere without the permission of their existing club. Mourinho has been charged with Rule Q, which relates to the manager's code of conduct.

Cole will be flying back from New York after last night's England friendly against Colombia when the judgment is announced and he faces a fine for breaking Rule K5 which forbids any player under contract to a club soliciting the interest of another.

The Premier League is under no illusions that the decision by the panel will have a wide-ranging effect on how transfer business is conducted by its clubs and it knows that, in the event of Cole being heavily punished, the player and his agent could decide to appeal. If they were to challenge the legality of the Premier League's rules relating to contracted players in the courts, the governing body would face an expensive and potentially damaging case.

Cole has another two years left on his contract and talks are understood to have stalled originally over the Arsenal board's reluctance to raise its offer from a wage of £55,000 a week to £60,000 a week.

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