A New York Times investigative report has uncovered a sad state of affairs in the Chelsea marketing department, with claims of a “dysfunctional” work environment, a toxic culture characterized by “unhappiness, fear and dread”, and mental health concerns for many of the 50 or so people in the department. The Times interviewed “about a dozen” current and former employees, and the report accuses Director of Marketing Gary Twelvetree of bullying and humiliating his employees.
Twelvetree, a former executive director at Visa, was hired in 2017, and has led Chelsea’s (necessary) foray into digital spaces such as the abominable 5th Stand App. According to his LinkedIn profile page, he remains employed by Chelsea at this point, but was “unavailable for comment” for the report.
⚽️ Story about turmoil inside Chelsea’s marketing department, accusations of bullying, staff leaving on mental health concerns and a suicide of a popular and much loved employee.— tariq panja (@tariqpanja) June 29, 2022
This was tough to report. Thanks to people who spoke with me.
via @NYTimes https://t.co/vA9zc3oBKT
Chelsea did respond to the Times by revealing that an “external review team” have been appointed to look into these allegations in March, shortly after the death by suicide in January of beloved former Chelsea TV producer Richard Bignell, who was fired in September after returning from medical leave.
While we cannot undo the past, Chelsea’s new ownership group do seem strongly committed to rooting out and fixing these issues, so hopefully that will indeed be the case.
“The Club’s new Board believes strongly in a workplace environment and corporate culture that empowers its employees and ensures they feel safe, included, valued and trusted. Initial steps have been taken by the new owners to instill an environment consistent with our values.
“Our heart goes out to Richard’s entire family. His passing has been deeply felt by his colleagues at the Club and across the football community.
“The Club has appointed an external review team to investigate the allegations that have been made under previous ownership. Upon learning about circumstances, new ownership has proactively reached out to Richard’s family through their counsel.”
-Chelsea statement; source: @tariqpanja
Chelsea’s owners have told us they hired an « external review team » amid barrage of allegations by current and former staff against head of marketing. Club also contacted family of former Chelsea TV head Richard Bignell who took his own life in January. https://t.co/vA9zc3oBKT— tariq panja (@tariqpanja) June 29, 2022