Tottenham give Chelsea deadline to settle feud

Chelsea are still not willing to offer Tottenham more than £2m in the dispute over Frank Arnesen which will reach its tipping point at noon today after the White Hart Lane club warned their rivals to settle or face an official complaint.

Following pictures published yesterday of Arnesen and Roman Abramovich on the Russian billionaire's yacht, Tottenham believe that they hold the whip hand in negotiations for a compensation package for their director of football. Tottenham are now certain that any Premier League inquiry would rule that Chelsea have made an illegal approach to Arnesen without the consent of the north London club.

The threat of a suspended points reduction - imposed over the Ashley Cole scandal - hangs over Chelsea and their talks with Tottenham yesterday centred upon them trying to avoid the prospect of starting the season with another inquiry hanging over them. But although Abramovich has returned to personally supervise talks, he is still being advised by Chelsea officials that they should pay no more than £2m for Arnesen's services.

That figure would represent a serious reduction in what Tottenham want for the £600,000-a-year Dane and has proved the obstacle in negotiations so far. The situation has become serious enough that the chief executive of the Premier League, Richard Scudamore, is being kept up-to-date with events to try to broker a peace deal.

While the Premier League executive would rather there was not another inquiry and independent commission on the scale of the one set up to investigate the Cole scandal, there is an appetite among many major clubs to see Chelsea taken to task again.

The £2m compensation figure is based on Arnesen's wages which Chelsea believe would represent a fair return to Tottenham for the director of football. However, Tottenham would be prepared to argue that Arnesen's role at the club would make him a key figure for whom Chelsea should pay accordingly.

Although Chelsea claim that there was an original letter sent to Tottenham to ask permission to speak to Arnesen, that letter was also copied to the Dane without the agreement of his club.

Although Chelsea claimed that the meeting between Abramovich and Arnesen was a "purely social occasion", the evidence is as damning as anything produced in the Cole case for which the Premiership champions were fined £500,000. The commission placed little stock in Chelsea's claims then that Peter Kenyon and Jose Mourinho only went to see Cole in order "to listen".

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