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Chelsea sack commercial director Damian Willoughby for ‘inappropriate’ text messages

Swift action

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Chelsea v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Chelsea have sacked Damian Willoughby less than one month after appointing him as commercial director, following an accusation and evidence of sexual harassment. Text messages from Willoughby sent to potential investor Catalina Kim, whom we might remember as one of the many people bidding for Chelsea back in May, were provided to the club earlier this month following Willoughby’s appointment. Some of them were also provided to the Telegraph, who led the way in reporting this today.

Chelsea’s statement has made it clear that while this incident occurred before our hiring of Willoughby, it’s clearly not something that we will tolerate.

“Chelsea Football Club confirms that it has terminated Commercial Director Damian Willoughby’s employment with immediate effect.

“Evidence of inappropriate messages sent by Mr Willoughby, prior to his appointment at Chelsea FC earlier this month, has recently been provided to and investigated by the Club. While they were sent prior to his employment at the Club, such behaviour runs absolutely counter to the workplace environment and corporate culture being established by the Club’s new ownership.

“The Club’s owners are working tirelessly to set and achieve the highest standards both on and off the pitch, and are determined to establish and nurture a culture of transparency, accountability, inclusivity, diversity and opportunity. The Club is committed to creating an environment which embodies these values.”

-Chelsea statement; source: Telegraph

As per the Telegraph, Chelsea and new CEO President of Business Tom Glick had been in talks with Kim over potential investments already when she was told of Willoughby’s hiring, prompting the brave decision to tell Chelsea of the sexually harassing messages (and video!), including ones that solicited sexual favors in exchange for introductions at City Football Group, where Willoughby worked at the time. Impressively sleazy stuff.

“I can confirm that I made a complaint to Tom Glick about the general behaviour of Damian Willoughby over two years, including his recent threatening phone call to me. I strongly believe this is not a work environment and corporate culture that any Premier League club would tolerate.”

-Catalina Kim statement; source: Telegraph

I think we can all agree with that. Good to see Chelsea practicing a zero tolerance policy and taking swift action, and great to see Kim speak up. Hopefully we can continue a healthy business relationship with her and her investment team.

(NB. The unrelated “external review” of the club’s marketing department and the allegations of toxic culture and bullying within it remains ongoing.)

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