On this day 15 years ago, the Premier League handed out charges to those involved in Chelsea’s illegal tapping up of Arsenal defender Ashley Cole.
Here, the PA news agency looks at both the background and fall-out from the incident.
What led to the charge?
Having established himself as first-choice left-back for Arsenal and England, Cole became a target for Jose Mourinho soon after the Portuguese had taken over at Stamford Bridge.
The guilty parties met at a hotel in January 2005 to discuss a move across London, without informing the Gunners.
Mourinho and Cole were joined by Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon and Jonathan Barnett, the player’s agent.
Who was hit with charges?
All those involved in the illicit meeting were hit with charges on March 23 and, on June 2, the governing body doled out the respective punishments.
Cole was fined GBP100,000 – reduced to GBP75,000 on appeal – with Mourinho’s initial GBP200,000 dropped to the same figure.
Chelsea were hit with a GBP300,000 fine and a suspended three-point deduction while Barnett, who was later found guilty, was fined GBP100,000 and had his licence revoked for 18 months – with nine months suspended.
How they reacted?
Speaking about the incident in his autobiography, Cole claimed: “I can only speak about what was said and not said while I was in the room, and in those 15-20 minutes, the chit-chat never strayed anywhere near what could be considered an approach by Chelsea.
“Not once was there anything mentioned about figures, transfers, further meetings or even leaving Arsenal.”
Then-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger would go on to say the issue with Cole was: “A regret of my career. He left on a misunderstanding between his agent and the club.”
What happened next?
Remarkably, Cole would go on to sign a contract extension with Arsenal just over a month after being hit with his punishment.
It still did not prevent him finally landing his move to Chelsea the following summer in a part-exchange deal which saw the Blues pay a reported GBP5million with William Gallas moving in the opposition direction.
Cole would be dubbed “Cashley” by Arsenal supporters and is still largely disliked by their fan base today – he went on to win the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, Carling Cup and three FA Cups during an eight-year stay at Stamford Bridge.
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