Suspension threat for Cole as Chelsea's anger grows

Latest allegations come just days after club laid down the law to its players over their behaviour
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The Independent Online

Ashley Cole will be fined and may even be suspended by Chelsea following the latest allegations concerning the England defender's private life.

The Premier League leaders are to consider taking the unprecedented step because Cole has apparently broken the club's strict code of conduct just days after it was laid out to them in no uncertain terms by Chelsea's chief executive, Ron Gourlay, last week.

Cole, who is sidelined with a fractured ankle, is to be called before an internal disciplinary hearing following the latest revelations about his private life, which include claims that the player used unwitting club officials to cover up an alleged infidelity during the club's pre-season tour to America last summer. The very least he can expect is a fine of two weeks' wages, which would work out at around £200,000.

The latest revelations came just four days after the players were issued with strict instructions to clean up their act. Gourlay held a meeting on Wednesday at which he made it clear any more scandals that tarnish Chelsea's image would lead to "severe disciplinary consequences". The players were also issued with a letter that spelt out exactly what was required from them. Gourlay's name was on the letter, but it was made clear the order had come from the club's owner, Roman Abramovich.

The Russian has had enough of hearing scurrilous stories about the private lives of Cole and the Chelsea captain, John Terry. He ordered Gourlay to tell the whole squad that no one would be immune from club discipline, irrespective of their status in the club, a warning clearly directed at Cole and Terry. The chief executive also pointed out that there would be no leniency shown for any misdemeanours in the past that may come to light in the future. The Chelsea hierarchy now have to show Abramovich they mean business, as the owner has made it clear to everyone at Stamford Bridge that the steady flow of seedy stories has to stop. Chelsea's stance about players' private lives has taken a smart U-turn now that the owner has intervened.

The new rules were drawn up before Chelsea were aware of the latest revelations concerning Cole, 29. Sunday newspapers yesterday alleged that Cole sneaked a woman back to his hotel room during the club's pre-season tour to America last July. Ann Corbitt, a 28-year-old local government worker, claimed she had an affair with Cole in Seattle and the player then used unsuspecting club officials to attempt to cover-up the incident.

Chelsea are furious they have again been implicated in allegations concerning Cole's sex life. Last week it was alleged members of the back-room staff helped Cole smuggle secretary Vicki Gough into his hotel room before a game at West Bromwich Albion.

A club spokesman last night refused to discuss whether Cole would be punished, saying: "Disciplinary issues are an internal matter and will be dealt with internally. We never discuss them publicly."

Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, revealed on Friday that the players had been told the club's name must not be dragged through the mud any more. "We explained to them the behaviour that is required of the players in this club," Ancelotti said. "Now they know very well what they have to do and what behaviour is expected of them when they're in the Chelsea shirt. The meeting was the owner's idea and Ron Gourlay spoke on his behalf. Everyone knows what they have to do to protect the image of his club."

Wednesday's meeting with the players, attended by Gourlay and Ancelotti, at the club's training ground in Cobham, Surrey, came after Terry returned from a trip to Dubai where he patched things up with his wife, Toni, following revelations he had an affair with one of her best friends Vanessa Perroncel, the former partner of the Manchester City and England full-back Wayne Bridge. Terry was stripped of the England captaincy by Fabio Capello, the England manager, last month after details of the affair were published by newspapers despite Terry's attempts to keep the matter quiet with a "super injunction".

Terry has also been accused of selling his exclusive box at Wembley for £4,000 a game via an associate of his management agents. In addition the Chelsea captain was filmed by a Sunday newspaper offering to give a guided tour of Chelsea's training ground for £10,000, although the club insist Terry did not accept any money.

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