English Premier League apologizes to Chelsea after publishing a story about Jose Mourinho
EPL website reported that Mourinho has returned to Stamford Bridge after leaving Real Madrid
The story was later taken down and the EPL insists it has no prior knowledge of his return
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez will continue in the role for the next four years
Jose Mourinho’s imminent return to Chelsea appears to be the worst-kept secret in world football – and the English Premier League has already jumped the gun by announcing his reappointment before a deal has been done.
The EPL’s website published a story on Sunday, dated Monday, with the headline “Jose Mourinho makes Chelsea return.”
Its subheader read: “Portuguese coach back at Stamford Bridge after signing a XX-year contract.”
The story was taken down, and the EPL issued a statement apologizing to Chelsea – which is searching for a new manager following the departure of interim coach Rafael Benitez.
“It was a publishing error. We took it down as soon as we were notified of it, and we’ve spoken to and apologized to Chelsea,” it said.
“We have no prior knowledge of any movement or any announcement.”
Chelsea has made no comment.
Mourinho’s final game in charge of Real Madrid was Saturday’s 4-2 win over Osasuna, which left the Spanish club in second place in La Liga – 15 points behind Barcelona.
The 50-year-old did not talk to reporters after the match, though he did an interview with Spanish television in which he denied omitting goalkeeper Iker Casillas and defender Pepe – with whom he has had public disputes – and top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo for any other reason than they were not fit enough to play.
“I wish everyone associated with Real Madrid much happiness in the future,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“I appreciate the support of lots of fans and respect the criticism of others. Once again, a lot of happiness to everyone and, above all, good health. Hala Madrid!”
Mourinho officially joined Chelsea on June 2, 2004 – the EPL website ran an archive feature on Sunday – and dubbed himself “the Special One” after having led Porto to the European title the previous season.
He was unable to take Chelsea to the Champions League final, but guided the club to two successive EPL titles – its first English championship successes since 1955.
After falling out with Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich in 2007, Mourinho joined Inter Milan the following season and won two successive Italian Serie A titles and the Champions League in 2010.
He was then courted by Real with the goal of ending the club’s long wait for a record-extending 10th European title, but despite winning La Liga in his second season Madrid fell three times at the semifinal stage of the Champions League and his relationship with key Spanish players such as Casillas deteriorated.
As in Italy, he had a prickly time with the local press – who took every opportunity to publish stories about dressing-room unrest at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real announced last month that he would be leaving, despite having signed a contract extension until 2016.
While Mourinho might have departed, the man who hired him will stay in charge of the club for the next few years.
Incumbent Florentino Perez was the only candidate put forward for Real’s presidential elections, it was announced Sunday, and the 66-year-old will be officially confirmed in the role on Tuesday.
Perez was first president from 2000-06, a period when Real last won the Champions League, and returned three years later as he continued his policy of signing the world’s best players – the so-called “Galacticos.”