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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 June, 2005, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Cole tapping-up evidence revealed
Ashley Cole
We are satisfied that every individual was fully aware that a pre-arranged meeting was to take place
Commission report
The disciplinary commission into the Ashley Cole 'tapping-up' case has dismissed Chelsea's claims they had no intention of signing the player.

The Blues and their manager Jose Mourinho were fined after being found guilty of an illegal approach for the England full-back, who was also fined.

"They (chief executive Peter Kenyon and Mourinho)... explored the prospect of acquiring Cole," said the commission.

"This amounted to an approach with a view to negotiating a contract."

After Wednesday's verdicts, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said they were never going to offer the Cole a contract but wanted to hear his grievances about Arsenal.

Mourinho had no desire to sign a left-back as short as Cole and instead wanted to gain "intelligence" on his Premiership rivals.

However, the commission said the meeting was far from innocent.

"We are driven to the conclusion we must reject the 'we only went along to listen' explanation and we safely infer that there was an active discussion between all those present on the basis that Ashley Cole was going to be up for sale in the near future," added the commission report.

"We are satisfied that every individual was fully aware that a pre-arranged meeting was to take place and that its purpose was to discuss with Ashley Cole his future."

Football agents Jonathan Barnett and Pini Zihavi were criticised for "engineering the meeting", which was said to have taken place at a London hotel on 27 January.

The decision seems to be based on conjecture and speculation
Ashley Cole's lawyer Graham Shear
It was also revealed in the commission report that Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira allegedly told Cole not to "settle for less than 80,000 a week" in his new contract negotiations.

The claim was made by Barnett, who showed a text message purportedly from the French midfielder to Gunners' vice-chairman David Dein.

In January Barnett was trying to renegotiate a new contract for his client and, after Dein said 55,000 a week plus commission and an Executive Box at the club's new stadium was Arsenal's final offer, the agent produced the text message.

According to the commission: "Barnett stated they could get 80-90,000 a week and that they could sell Ashley Cole for 20m.

"He then gestured to his phone saying 'Do you want me to make a phone call? This is take it or leave it time', from which Dein inferred (and, as we find, Barnett intended that he should infer) that there was another club that was seriously interested in signing Ashley Cole."

That sparked a "sophisticated game of bluff" and in turn set in motion the chain of events that led to the meeting, which Barnett and Cole said lasted between six and 10 minutes.

The commission preferred the estimate of 40-50 minutes given by Mourinho and Kenyon.

During that time Kenyon alleged Barnett did most of the talking, outlining concerns over Cole's relationship with Arsene Wenger and the growing influence of French cliques at Highbury.

Cole also felt there was a lack of investment at Arsenal and that Chelsea had a better team spirit.

"He did not come across as someone who was wanting to flit around," Kenyon said at his second interview. "He was a serious professional who was looking at his career in a pretty structured and organised manner."

But despite his appraisal of Cole's attitude, Kenyon and Mourinho said immediately afterwards they were not interested in signing the player, not least because the manager wanted a player who was a minimum of 1m 80cm.

Cole looks set to appeal against the 100,000 Premier League fine imposed on him for his involvement saga.

Cole's lawyer Graham Shear said: "We think this is an entirely unsatisfactory conclusion. We will be lodging an appeal immediately.

"The decision seems to be based on conjecture and speculation."

Chelsea were fined 300,000 and handed a suspended three-point deduction, while Mourinho was fined 200,000.

Mourinho claimed he attended the meeting to gain "intelligence" on their Highbury rivals and that he did not want to sign Cole as the left-back was too short.

The commission said the meeting was far from innocent and handed out fines amounting to 600,00 to Cole, Chelsea and Mourinho.

Mourinho's concern over Cole's lack of height is just one fact to emerge from the disciplinary commission's enlightening 24-page report on their findings.


SEE ALSO
Cole to launch appeal after fine
01 Jun 05 |  Arsenal
Chelsea, Mourinho and Cole fined
01 Jun 05 |  Premiership
The truth about 'tapping up'
01 Jun 05 |  Football
Agent vows to clear Cole's name
03 Jun 05 |  Arsenal
Cole case could 'lead to chaos'
02 Jun 05 |  Premiership


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