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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 March, 2005, 10:22 GMT
Cole claims meeting was unplanned
Ashley Cole celebrates scoring Arsenal's winner
Frankly I am amazed this could happen in a hotel in the centre of London. Why not do it in the middle of the M25!
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
Arsenal defender Ashley Cole has reportedly told a Premier League inquiry that he was approached by Chelsea officials at a London hotel.

Cole allegedly admitted meeting boss Jose Mourinho and chief executive Peter Kenyon but claimed it was not planned.

The 24-year-old told the inquiry on Monday he was talking with his agent Jonathan Barnett when they arrived.

Barnett previously gave his evidence to the inquiry and denied setting up a meeting with Chelsea's representatives.

Kenyon has also given evidence to the inquiry, which was prompted by allegations in the News of the World newspaper.

Barnett had described the newspaper's claims as: "Not only false but both appalling and offensive.

"For it to be suggested that I cynically set up a meeting with Chelsea and dragged them to it almost against their will is, quite frankly, ludicrous.

PREMIER LEAGUE RULES
Any club which by itself, by any of its officials, by any of its players, by its agent, by any other person on its behalf or by any other means whatsoever makes an approach either directly or indirectly to a contract player shall be in breach of these rules

Possible punishments include:
Reprimand
Fine unlimited in amount
Suspend for such period as it shall think fit
Deduct points
Expulsion from the league
Order compensation to another club
Any combination of the above or any other order as it thinks fit

"When I gave my evidence to the inquiry I was respectfully reminded that the proceedings were confidential - and I have respected that."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said: "I am convinced that a meeting did take place - although that has not been confirmed.

"This case is very sad and very unfortunate because you expect your neighbours with that power not to behave like that.

"But I have to let the Premier League make an inquiry and make the right decision. The timing of that meeting was at least not very welcome.

"I want the Premier League to judge the case and be fair. It is down to them to take action.

"You cannot say it is normal that two days before we play Manchester United your players are tapped up.

"It is strange to me because it is just before big games."

Wenger also blasted Chelsea for what he called "arrogance".

Arsene Wenger
Wenger has called Chelsea "arrogant" over the affair

"Frankly I am amazed this could happen in a hotel in the centre of London. Why not do it in the middle of the M25 and then at least everybody knows!

"They seem to think they are above everything. It is arrogance when you think you are above everything and just do whatever you want.

"The responsibility for all this is with the agent and the other club."

Wenger insists he wants Cole to stay at Arsenal and become club captain.

Wenger said: "My desire is that Ashley Cole stays at the club, signs a new deal and one day becomes captain of the club. I want him to stay."

Cole was on the bench at the Reebok Stadium but Wenger said the defender's demotion had nothing to do with the inquiry.

"The reason was for medical reasons as he had hamstring problems," said the Gunners boss.

"The fact that I didn't play him had nothing to do with the stories on the back pages."




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14 Mar 05 |  Chelsea



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