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 Â£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 Â£200,000. Chelsea Football Club were fined Â£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 Â£300,000, Mourinho Â£200,000, Ashley Cole Â£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 Â£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. Â£200,000? Mere flick of a finger and a fly is shifted off Mourinho's shoulders. That's how much Â£200,000 means.
Chelsea fined Â£300,000? If Â£200,000 is a mere fly to Mourinho, Â£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 Â£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?