Chelsea have denied that they are interested in appointing Sven Goran Eriksson as their next coach, claiming that present incumbent Claudio Ranieri has got the full backing of the club.

The club’s acting chief executive, Paul Smith, dismissed newspaper reports claiming the England coach would sign a four-year-£18m deal with the Premier League leaders.

“There’s no interest in Eriksson and we’ve not even had one conversation about him,” Smith told the London Evening Standard newspaper.

“There’s no substance to this story. “If there was anything in it, I’d know about it.

“It’s just the same old story. I think it was written to tie in with the Euro 2004 draw.”

“How can you criticise Claudio?” demanded Smith.

“We are top of the league and through to the last 16 of the Champions League.

“It would be very difficult to criticise Claudio even if you wanted to.

“Everyone at the club is very happy with the work he’s been doing and we want him in charge at the start of next season.

“We’re going to carry on as we are.”

Meanwhile, Eriksson has confirmed that he will make a decision as to his future plans before next summer’s EURO 2004 finals.

“It will be sorted before Euro 2004, but I haven’t decided whether it will be tomorrow or in three months,’ said the Swede, who has been offered a two-year extension on present deal.

“It’s too early to say yes, no or whatever. We’ve time to talk about it.”