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£400,000 fine may lead to Cole's Chelsea exit

ASHLEY COLE has set himself on a collision course with Chelsea after deciding to contest any disciplinary sanctions handed out by the club for his role in a series of alleged sex scandals.

Senior figures at Stamford Bridge want to fine Cole £400,000 over claims that he repeatedly broke club rules and tarnished Chelsea's image, but the England left-back claims that he has been singled out for special treatment and is determined to fight his corner.

Cole's feelings are so strong that there is a danger he could leave the club. It is indicative of his state of mind that he has yet to apologise to Steve Atkins, the club's head of communications, who, it is claimed, was misled into organising an attempted cover-up in the wake of allegations that Cole (pictured left) smuggled Ann Corbitt, an American local government worker, into his room at the team's Seattle hotel during last summer's pre-season tour of the United States.

Cole is also unhappy that his treatment has differed from that afforded to Chelsea captain John Terry, who received public backing from the club during his well-documented personal difficulties.

Chelsea's position is that the cases are completely different, as for all the embarrassment caused by the lurid headlines involving Terry, his indiscretions were private matters carried out in his own time. Cole, on the other hand, stands accused of breaking club rules by bringing women back to the team hotel on at least three occasions.

European giants Barcelona and Inter Milan have made inquiries in the past and despite what would doubtless be a hefty transfer fee may do so again, given the dearth of high-quality full backs in the world game at present.