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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Chelsea, Mourinho and Ashley Cole verdict

Eventually the Premier League have decided that Ashley Cole was guilty of accepting an approach by Chelsea to discuss a deal, and was fined £100,000. The Premier League said the fine was appropriate as "it is unlikely that Ashley Cole will ever be tempted in this way again". The player may well instruct a defence of restraint of trade under employment law, where he may argue he has a right to look elsewhere for employment.

Jose Mourinho was found guilty for his role in the approach and was fined £200,000. Chelsea Football Club were fined £300,000 and had three points suspended, meaning that if they commit another similar offence in the coming season, they will be deducted said points.

Cole was found to have breached of rule K5, prohibition of a player approaching another club in view of negotiating a transfer. Chelsea were found to have breached rule K3, prohibition of speaking to a player who is still in contract with another football club and without that club's permission. Mourinho was found in breach of rule Q, similar to that of K3 for Chelsea.

Well, big deal. Chelsea lose £300,000, Mourinho £200,000, Ashley Cole £100,000. These days the fortunes and finances of players and managers means that those fines can be paid easily. Cole is said to be unlikely to be tempted to be involved in such a thing again, because I assume the fine would be larger. Does that make a difference? The only snag is that Arsenal are aware he encouraged the approach, and he had been in contract talks with Arsenal around the time the approach happened. In other words, Cole wasn't happy with that offered by Arsenal and instead became involved with Chelsea, London rivals for the Premiership crown and owners of current gloating rights. What does it say about Cole's respect and honour for Arsenal? Does he now want to discuss contract issues again with a view of agreeing terms or is he content for his current contract to run out and he leaves? Or perhaps he will encourage Chelsea again, this time for Chelsea to ask Arsenal permission and make sure any approach is made legally (within the Premiership rules)?

Personally, I feel any defence Cole wishes to argue regarding free movement for work within the EU will fail.

Mourinho fined £200,000. Big deal, he pays it, he can do so. He may not be interested in Cole anymore. He made the approach (Peter Kenyon was said to be involved but he is not a player or manager so no decision was considered regarding his role), was exposed and is fined. He moves on. He was interested but Cole cried when it was exposed, so Mourinho now looks elsewhere. He doesn't want a cry baby, he wants strong rugged players with plenty heart and valour. £200,000? Mere flick of a finger and a fly is shifted off Mourinho's shoulders. That's how much £200,000 means.

Chelsea fined £300,000? If £200,000 is a mere fly to Mourinho, £300,000 is the proverbial water of a duck's back to Chelsea. If I wish to mock the punishment meted by the Premier League, what would I do instead? For Chelsea, their fine should be more and they should be docked points, not have them suspended. Fines should be means-tested for all guilty parties. Cole's fine should be more, where he is instructed to pay punitive damages to Arsenal.

The parties involved were clear as to what they were doing and made little secret about it. I personally wouldn't arrange to meet in a public place and risk being spotted and recognised. Liverpool were found guilty of the very same thing regarding Christian Ziege, who was then with Middlesbrough. Liverpool were fined £20,000, the heaviest fine until today's decision. And to think that the Premier League made the enquiry when Arsenal made a formal complaint in February. Is that to say, despite press reports stating that the meeting occured, the Premier League wouldn't have investigated until the player's club complained?



Blogger Abdul said...

Thank you for your round up of this matter Redsman. Ashley Cole's/Chelsea's intention to appeal against the decision could have wide ranging implications if successful. The restraint of trade argument is a strong one and we could be a appeal decison away from a situation where players are free to talk to other clubs without permission.

I'm intrigued - does anyone know how Cole managed to keep that cardigan perched on his back without it falling off? Safety pins perhaps?

6/03/2005 9:07 am

Blogger T said...

Thank-you Redsman for your your report on Colegate.

Unfortunately I have not had time to read the judgment and update myself to the full facts of the case.

However, on the restraint of trade argument, I believe that football should have a special exemption to general employment rules.

Top footballers are not merely employees, they are major financial assets, and it is only fair for football clubs that they can exercise a veto over any approaches to these well paid and lucrative assets during their employees fixed term contract.

What appears missing from this weeks judgment and punishment is a rebuke for the football agents who flagrantly act outside the FA rules, and with regard to Zahavi, can claim immunity from jurisdiction. The apparent impunity offered to agents is simply ridiculous.

Are the FA goint to act decisively to thoroughly regulate agent's activities and tighten loopholes that the likes of Zahavi are exploiting?

Mr Barwick, instead of making grand statements about how Liverpool (his team) should be given a place in the Champs League, why don't you instead make public statements about what plans you have to constrain football agents.

Do this and you will earn the respect of a lot of football fans.

By the way, Ashley Cole is going to lose many fans for pursuing an appeal. I think Arsenal should sell him this summer if he does not accept the terms offered.

If he is all about money- then he is perfect for Chelsea.

6/03/2005 7:04 pm


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