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Why Turn Off The Cole Tap?
Tony Cascarino: the tapping up of players is widespread in the English game and isn’t a reason for docking Chelsea points.
Tony Cascarino, 10 Feb 2005
As much as Arsenal and Man U fans would love it to happen, there’s no way that the FA are going to dock Chelsea points for their alleged tapping up of Ashley Cole. Firstly because David O’Leary and Aston Villa were found guilty of the same thing in relation to James Beatie and got off with a £10,000 fine, and secondly because virtually every club in the league does it.
The first problem the FA are going to have is proving that it actually happened. A Chelsea representative and Ashley Cole being in the same London hotel together doesn’t automatically make them guilty of an illegal approach. To pin that on them, the player himself has to say, “We met and they asked me to join their club”, which I don’t think he’s going to do. What I reckon will happen is that after much huffing and puffing – most of it from Mr. Wenger! – Ashley Cole will sign a new Arsenal contract that will be worth substantially more than his present deal.
Is asking a player if he wants to join your club that sinister? If he says “no”, that it’s, end of story. If he says “yes”, the would-be buyer still has to contact the would-be seller who can tell them what to do with their transfer offer. Arsene Wenger isn’t going to turn up at Highbury one morning and find a note from Ashley Cole saying, “Forgot to mention it yesterday, but I’ve gone to Chelsea.”
The reality of the situation is that if Ashley Cole wants to move to Chelsea, he’ll move to Chelsea. Birmingham City tried the “He’s not going anywhere” approach with Robbie Savage and look where that got them? The only thing you can do with a player who doesn’t want to be at your club anymore is give them their transfer. Otherwise you have somebody sulking and souring the atmosphere for everybody else.
Knowing what I do about how things operate, I’d say there’s some degree of tapping up in 90% of transfers. I was “approached illegally” a couple of times, most notably at Millwall when I got a phone call at Easter from the Chief Executive of a certain club asking would I join them. I said “no” because we were pushing for promotion. They got their answer straight from the horse’s mouth, which didn’t do anybody any harm.