Chelsea support Mourinho attack despite FA anger

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The Independent Football

Sources at Stamford Bridge admitted last night that relations between the two clubs, already fraught after the Ashley Cole scandal, had plunged to a new low following Mourinho's call for Dein to be sacked from the FA and allegations of favouritism towards Arsenal over the fixture list.

Mourinho, who also implied that Arsenal had tapped up Seville's Julio Baptista, also found himself heavily criticised by the Premier League over his comments on Tuesday that Dein had used his influence to get Arsenal home matches following Champions' League ties five times out of six this coming season. The reverse is the case for Chelsea. Now the FA's compliance unit is examining Mourinho's comments to decide whether there is a case for him to be charged, less than two months after he was fined £200,000 for his role in the Cole case.

Although there is considerable alarm at Chelsea over Mourinho's latest outspoken attack - in which he also called for the end of club representation on the FA's main board - the club are eager not to isolate their manager. Mourinho was close to a serious rift with his chairman, Bruce Buck, over what he perceived as a failure by the club not to back him over the dispute with Barcelona last season.

With the season not due to start for another month, Mourinho has set the tone for what promises to be a poisonous dispute between the top two clubs in the country. The FA are hopeful that their strongly worded statement will be enough to draw Chelsea back into line, but the indications are that Mourinho remains extremely militant.

The FA said they were "extremely disappointed" at Mourinho's allegations which, they said, come "at a time when the football authorities are collectively striving to improve behaviour at all levels of the game".

Mourinho remains furious about Dein's role in the Cole tapping-up case in which it was the Arsenal vice-chairman who reported Chelsea to the Premier League and triggered the inquiry that saw the Premiership champions earn a total of £500,000 in fines. Dein also gave evidence at the hearing which has contributed to the alienation of Cole, who was also fined £100,000.

The FA explained the role of Dein, who is one of four Premier League representatives on their main board, and is elected by the 20 clubs in the division - including Chelsea. "We would like to state categorically that Mr Dein does not have any involvement within the FA's disciplinary or compliance functions," the FA said. "It should also be made clear that he is not a member of the FA's disciplinary committee.

"Therefore, Mr Dein does not have any input into any decisions to charge individuals or clubs with breaches of FA rules, nor in any judgement or punishment administered by a disciplinary commission."

The Premier League also sought to defend the role of Dein and the integrity of their fixture list which has paired Chelsea with Arsenal on 21 August - a fixture that is already shaping up to be more contentious in the directors' box than on the field. The Premier League statement said Mourinho's comments were "not only unfounded, but also displayed a lack of understanding". It added: "Our fixtures are drawn up through a complex process with many criteria being taken into account, such as the pairing of clubs who play in the same city and home and away rotation. Whether a club is playing in the Champions' League has no bearing whatsoever on how their following weekend fixtures are allocated.

"David Dein has, every year since the formation of the Premier League, been elected by our member clubs to represent them at the FA. Clearly he enjoys their confidence and his service is valued."

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