Cole appeal panel 'could meet before new season'

The Premier League remain hopeful of hearing Ashley Cole’s appeal against his fine for making an illegal approach to Chelsea before the start of the new season.

The Premier League remain hopeful of hearing Ashley Cole’s appeal against his fine for making an illegal approach to Chelsea before the start of the new season.

Cole lodged an appeal against the sanction earlier this week after the Arsenal full-back was found to be in breach of Premier League Rule K5, which governs approaches by contracted players to clubs.

Chelsea were handed a £300,000 fine and a suspended three-point deduction by an independent commission last week, while Blues manager Jose Mourinho was hit with a £200,000 penalty for breaching league rules after a meeting, held without Arsenal’s knowledge, at a London hotel in January.

There is a 14-day deadline, from June 1, which all parties – including Chelsea and Mourinho – were given to register an appeal, and once that date passes it is likely the formal process of establishing a panel will begin.

An FA Premier League appeals board – which will be made up of an independent, legally-qualified chairman and two Football Association councillors – will then be established.

“It is dependent on the chair and the timings he sets, but as yet we have not appointed a chair,” confirmed a spokesman for the Premier League today.

Cole’s legal team, led by lawyer Graham Shear, are likely to focus on the existing legislation acting as restraint of trade, and have indicated their client could decide to take the case further depending on his “satisfaction, or lack of satisfaction” with the next ruling. The Court of Arbitration for Sport and the European Court of Justice are two of the longer-term options also available.

Although both Cole’s agent Jonathan Barnett and Israeli ‘super-agent’ Pini Zahavi were criticised for their role in instigating the meeting between Chelsea and Cole, no disciplinary measures were imposed against them as their actions do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Premier League.

The FA, though, do have a code of conduct for all agents registered in England, in compliance with FIFA guidelines, and are currently investigating whether those articles were contravened.

As Zahavi is not registered in England, the FA will pass on any relevant information to FIFA and the Israeli FA.

Should it be decided Barnett – whose firm, the Stellar Group, represents around 500 sportsmen – does have a case to answer and were found guilty of a breach of FA rules he could face a range of penalties, from a warning to a suspension or even revocation of his agent’s licence.

Arsenal, meanwhile, maintain they want to keep Cole at Highbury, despite the 24-year-old defender feeling aggrieved by what he sees as a lack of support from the Gunners, in particular vice-chairman David Dein, over the episode which originated from stalled contract talks and admitted “I can’t help feeling it’s all over” in a newspaper interview last the weekend.

Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona are rumoured to be interested in the £20million-rated defender, who declared he would not be interested in playing for another English team should he eventually leave Arsenal.

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