Chelsea set to fight any guilty verdict from Uefa

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The Independent Football

Chelsea expect their manager Jose Mourinho, assistant manager Steve Clarke and security officer Les Miles to be found guilty today of bringing the game into disrepute at a special disciplinary hearing at the headquarters of Uefa, European football's governing body, in Nyon, Switzerland.

Chelsea expect their manager Jose Mourinho, assistant manager Steve Clarke and security officer Les Miles to be found guilty today of bringing the game into disrepute at a special disciplinary hearing at the headquarters of Uefa, European football's governing body, in Nyon, Switzerland.

The Premiership club will immediately launch an appeal if that happens, because it would suggest they had colluded in making up a story that the Barcelona coach, Frank Rijkaard, had visited the room of the referee Anders Frisk during Chelsea's Champions League tie at the Nou Camp in February.

However, Chelsea's response will partly depend on the punishments handed out by Uefa's control and disciplinary committee, and the language used by the organisation and its officials.

If the organisation is as aggressive as it was when charging the trio - Uefa released a statement saying Chelsea had deliberately created "a poisoned and negative ambience" - the club may also consider legal action over the impartiality of the proceedings. They have had teams of lawyers examining the evidence ever since the charges were brought and are confident of their case, especially in light of the accusations made by Uefa's director of communications, William Gaillard.

Intriguingly, Chelsea would probably accept punishment for Mourinho if both Clarke and Miles are cleared, or mildly rebuked, and the incident is blamed on some kind of genuine misinterpretation made in good faith. They accept that Mourinho's own language after the match - and the accusations he levelled - went too far. However, anything more than a reasonable fine and one-match suspension for the manager, which would only bar him from the touchline for Tuesday's quarter-final first-leg tie against Bayern Munich at Stamford Bridge, and Chelsea would appeal against that as well.

It is now clear that Mourinho did not see the incident, after originally claiming that he had, which is alleged to have taken place at half-time during the match. Mourinho subsequently based his accusations on what Clarke and Miles claim they saw. The two men went into the Chelsea dressing-room to tell Mourinho that a meeting had taken place and he reacted by shouting at Frisk, who subsequently retired as a referee after receiving death threats over the incident. Chelsea were leading at half-time but eventually lost 2-1, with striker Didier Drogba being sent off in the second half.

Chelsea, who are not sending any representatives to the hearing in Nyon but have submitted a written defence, also accept that they deserve to be punished and fined for turning up late for the second half and for not attending a mandatory post-match press conference.

The panel will be made up of semi-independent members. They include David Taylor, the chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, who said yesterday: "It is a judicial process so quite properly nobody comments on the case before the events and there are all sorts of legal and other submissions to be made. It is like the court of first instance in terms of Uefa. There is an appeal that could be taken to an appeals body, but 80 to 90 per cent of cases are dealt with at that stage." A verdict is expected by mid-afternoon.

There is a wide range of sanctions available to the panel: a warning, fines, annulling the result and, ultimately, expelling Chelsea from the competition. However, the latter is highly unlikely because, although the case is deemed serious and is somewhat unprecedented, it is also a first offence. Chelsea have 48 hours to lodge an appeal and any hearing is likely to take place on Monday.

Also to be heard is a charge against Arsenal's Jens Lehmann that he squirted water at a match official after Bayern Munich knocked the London club out of the Champions' League.

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