An independent disciplinary commission is expected to be appointed by the Premier League within the next few days to deal with Chelsea’s alleged 'tapping up' of Ashley Cole.
The inquiry into the ‘Colegate’ affair has finished taking evidence and the Premier League’s lawyer Nick Fitzpatrick is set to recommend that there is a case for Chelsea to answer.
It is understood that as Chelsea, Ashley Cole and his agent Jonathan Barnett have all confirmed to inquiry leader Fitzpatrick that a meeting took place - though disputing the details of that meeting – he will recommend that a disciplinary commission be set up.
Premier League chairman Dave Richards and chief executive Richard Scudamore will take the final decision, almost certainly before the Easter weekend and perhaps as soon as the end of this week, but Arsenal will be incensed if the matter is not taken further.
The next step will be to appoint a three-man panel to hear the case, where the Premier League would act as the prosecution and Chelsea as the defence.
A highly-placed source in the Premier League told the Press Association: “It would be beyond belief if an independent disciplinary commission were not appointed after all the evidence that has been heard.
“It has been such a public and high-profile case as well that it is important for the Premier League and the whole of football that it runs its full course.”
If they are found guilty Chelsea will probably escape with a fine although under Premier League rules a full range of punishments – even up to expulsion from the league – is possible.
Chelsea will be able to point to precedents where Liverpool were fined £20,000 (€28,700) for making an illegal approach for Christian Ziege and more recently when Aston Villa were warned and ordered to pay costs for making an illegal approach for James Beattie.
Meanwhile, Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon’s hopes of the club being invited to join the G14 group of elite European clubs have had to be shelved.
The 18 clubs who make up G14 – including Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool – met in Milan today but the issue of new members was not even discussed.
Kenyon has powerful friends among G14 members but under the group’s rules it only needs one member to object to an invitation.
Arsenal and Barcelona are both represented on G14 so, with Chelsea being involved in ‘Colegate’ and the Anders Frisk affair, any attempt to secure an invitation would almost certainly have been rebuffed.