Chelsea last night appeared to have headed off the threat of a potential points deduction when Tottenham stopped short of lodging an official complaint with the Premier League over the Frank Arnesen tapping-up affair.
The noon deadline that Tottenham had set to reach a compromise over Arnesen, who has been suspended after he told the Spurs board he wanted to leave, passed without any complaint being sent to the Premier League. However, yesterday evening the sides were in talks about a compromise with Tottenham holding out for cash rather than players.
While Chelsea have told them that they would prefer to offload players, with Glen Johnson and Robert Huth among those suggested, Tottenham would rather take the money although they will have to settle for a lot less than the £10m they first demanded. Chelsea are determined not to be forced into paying over the odds simply because of the wealth of their owner Roman Abramovich.
The passing of the noon deadline was regarded as crucial by Chelsea, who were still negotiating yesterday evening and believed that once they had seen off the prospect of a complaint, they had Tottenham in a position where they would compromise. There is now no chance of Arnesen being able to return to White Hart Lane for the new season, and the £600,000-a-year Dane would have to take gardening leave.
Tottenham are also likely to ask for a clause in the settlement package that precludes Arnesen from signing any of the young players he has brought to the club over the last year. That would include Derby's highly rated England under-21 international Tom Huddlestone, who was scouted by a number of clubs, including Chelsea and joins next month in a £2.5m deal.
There is still some surprise at Tottenham that Arnesen would wish to take a job that is a significant step down from his role as technical director at White Hart Lane, where he is more powerful than the head coach Martin Jol. At Chelsea he will be in charge of recruitment but will not stand above Jose Mourinho in the club's hierarchy.
Should Tottenham decide they want to take the issue to the Premier League, Chelsea face the possibility of a points deduction after their part in the Ashley Cole tapping-up scandal.
Chelsea have lightened the load on their wage structure with an agreement yesterday that will see the Argentinian midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron sign on loan to Internazionale for a further two seasons. There was little chance of Chelsea recouping the £15m they paid Manchester United for Veron in August 2003 but they now have a deal that will take him to the end of his contract at the club.