A phone call weeks ago ended their marriage – now Cheryl's plotting how to get her own back...
One last private phone call between the pair has taken place and official statements confirming the split have been drafted.
All that remains is for Cheryl, 26, to give her team the green light to release the news and the collapse of her marriage will be final.
In a remarkably businesslike approach, even for ambitious Cheryl, her focus is now entirely on her career plans.
She sent a clear sign to fans last week when she boarded a plane for LA the day after her Brits performance without any reconciliation with Ashley – and minus her wedding ring.
Despite repeated denials from her camp, Now revealed back in December that Cheryl was planning a move to LA in February, leaving Ashley behind.
We can also reveal the couple said their goodbyes and ended things privately weeks ago, long before last week’s allegation that he slept with a secretary and further claims of infidelity in the Sunday tabloids.
Our source says: ‘Cheryl’s spent most of her time in hotels since the start of the year, from where the split has been quietly managed. Tears over 30-year-old Ashley’s behaviour are reserved for when she’s alone with her mum Joan Callaghan. In public, she’s determined to be cool and confident.
‘She plans to leave Ashley. But don’t expect her to bow to pressure and do that now there have been a few stories about his cheating. She’ll do it when it suits her and that could be during the World Cup this summer, when it would cause him the most humiliation. She’s determined that he’ll suffer.’
Cheryl has a suite at London’s May Fair hotel, courtesy of her record company Universal. She’s spent most of the past two weeks there, but after returning from LA insiders expect her to return at least once to the mansion that she shares with Ashley in Oxshott, Surrey, to dampen speculation.
Tellingly, a holiday the pair had planned months ago to immediately follow the Brits was firmly cancelled this week. Instead, Cheryl flew to the US.
Our source says: ‘It’s obvious the marriage is in trouble, but Cheryl hates giving in to tabloid pressure.
‘She expected the end of the marriage to become front page news, but it was never part of the plan for a litany of sex scandals to overshadow this crucial stage of her career.
‘Cheryl’s furious that Ashley’s ruined a week when she should’ve been enjoying the spotlight. These embarrassing, sleazy kiss’n’tell stories and Ashley’s ridiculous excuses overshadowed her Brits performance and made her a laughing stock.
‘But Cheryl will get her revenge. She’s taking her time to do it properly. Ashley’s already feeling down because he’s at home nursing an injury and he’s desperate to play in the World Cup. She’ll wait until it’s meant to be his moment and then drop the bombshell – on her terms.
‘By that time, she’ll have had a couple of months in the US under her belt and will look like the strong one, while he’ll be at his most vulnerable and will be made to look a fool.’
See the full story about Ashley and Cheryl Cole in Now magazine dated 1 March 2010 – out today!