Premier League charge Chelsea, Mourinho and Cole

THE Premier League last night started the process of appointing an independent disciplinary commission into Chelsea’s alleged ‘tapping up’ of Ashley Cole.

After considering the evidence gathered from their lawyer Nick Fitzpatrick into a meeting between Chelsea, Cole and his agent, Jonathan Barnett, at a London hotel, the Premier League have now charged both Chelsea and their manager, Jose Mourinho, as well as Cole with a breach of the competition rules.

A statement from the Premier League read: "On Sunday, February 6, the board of the FA Premier League launched a formal inquiry following allegations that Chelsea FC may have acted in breach of Premier League Rule K3 regarding approaches to players already contracted to another club.

"As a result of that inquiry, the board of the FA Premier League have today issued the following charges:

"1 Chelsea FC have been charged with a breach of Rule K3, governing approaches to players.

"2 Jose Mourinho has been charged with a breach of Rule Q, governing managers' conduct.

"3 Ashley Cole has been charged with a breach of Rule K5, governing approaches by players to clubs.

"Consequently, the board will be asking for a formal response to these charges within 14 days and have begun the process of appointing a three-person independent commission, in accordance with their disciplinary procedures, to determine this matter.

"The board will be forwarding information gathered during the inquiry to the Football Association with a view to considering whether further steps should be taken in relation to their actions."

The independent three-man commission will be headed by a Queen's Counsel barrister, who will oversee the formal proceedings.

If they are eventually found guilty Chelsea, will probably escape with a substantial fine, although a full range of punishments even up to expulsion from the competition are open to the commission, under provision of Section R of the Premier League's rules.

Chelsea will be able to point to precedents Liverpool were fined £20,000 for making an illegal approach for Christian Ziege, and more recently Aston Villa were warned and ordered to pay costs for making an illegal approach for James Beattie.

Further bad news is that Chelsea are likely to be fined today by UEFA's Control and Disciplinary Body for two misdemeanours during and after their Champions League clash with Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

The last-16 first leg, which Chelsea lost 2-1, has been overshadowed by the events which led to referee Anders Frisk retiring from the game.

The incident when Frisk is alleged to have spoken with Barca coach Frank Rijkaard eclipsed the fact UEFA were unhappy with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho failing to attend the post-match press conference and that his side were late onto the pitch for the second half.

The row has escalated to unprecedented heights following Chelsea's claim witnesses saw Rijkaard leave Frisk's room during the interval.

The report they submitted to UEFA has led to disrepute charges for Mourinho, his assistant Steve Clarke and security official Les Miles. Mourinho expects UEFA to drop the charges and Chelsea are standing by their version of events.

Mourinho told Portuguese television: "I have the expectation of complete dismissal, complete dismissal."

UEFA have stated, in their opinion, all three made 'false declarations' and the club deliberately created a 'poisoned ambience' for the return leg which Chelsea duly won 4-2 to reach the quarter-finals.

Those charges, which carry the ultimate sanction of elimination from the competition, will not be heard until March 31.

Chelsea will, however, almost certainly be fined tomorrow for the two other charges. It is understood Mourinho hurled abuse at Frisk when the official opened to door to request Chelsea make their way onto the pitch for the second half.

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