English champion Chelsea, team manager Jose Mourinho and Arsenal defender Ashley Cole were fined a combined £600,000 (US$1.086 million) on Wednesday and given a stinging rebuke by the Premier League after being found guilty of breaking the rules on transfer deals.
A Premier League commission ruled that Mourinho and the Blues were guilty of trying to lure Cole away from the Gunners at a meeting with the player and two soccer agents in a London hotel, even though he had two years left on his contract. The panel also found that the England leftback had effectively tried to help the move along, although it said he was the victim of the agents' tactics.
Premier League rules state that when players are under contract, clubs looking to buy them have to first gain permission from their teams before opening negotiations. Conversely, players have to get permission from their clubs to talk to other teams.
The Premier League tribunal imposed a fine of £300,000 on Chelsea as well as a three-point deduction, suspended for one season. The points will only be deducted if Chelsea is found guilty of a similar breach of the rules.
Mourinho, who is vacationing and was not at Wednesday's hearing, was fined £200,000. Cole, who flew back from the US to appear at the hearing having played for England in Tuesday's 3-2 victory over Colombia, was ordered to pay £100,000.
Lawyers for Cole, Chelsea and Mourinho all said they would likely appeal the verdicts and punishments. All have 14 days to appeal.
The three-man panel said that Mourinho, who led Chelsea to its first league title in 50 years in his first season with the club, had played a "pivotal" role in an incident that had cast a cloud over the Blues' triumph.
"The presence of the manager was vital because he was the key component in the discussion," the panel's statement read. "Managers are fully aware of their obligations under the rules and he acted in blatant disregard of them. In imposing the penalty we now do, we aim to send a clear message to other managers that this conduct must not occur."
The panel said Chelsea had a duty to abide by long-standing Premier League rules.
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said the club was "disappointed and shocked" by the verdicts and sanctions.