Chelsea launch investigation after suicide revealed
Chelsea have appointed an external review team to investigate allegations made by the New York Times
Premier League team Chelsea have appointed an external review team to conduct an investigation into allegations of a toxic environment within the club’s marketing department, following a report from the New York Times which alleges that there was an atmosphere which prompted “unhappiness, fear and dread” among staff members.
The wide-ranging report by the US newspaper uncovered what they claim as being a ‘dysfunctional’ working environment which led to extreme concerns from around 50 people employed within.
The newspaper spoke to a dozen or so past and present employees of the club, with the report accusing Director of Marketing Gary Twelvetree of engaging in a campaign of ‘bullying’ which led to the humiliation of several workers.
Twelvetree, a former executive at Visa, was appointed as head of the club’s marketing team in 2017 and was tasked with overseeing Chelsea’s digital revolution as they expanded their reach on social media and other online spaces, including spearheading the club’s much-maligned ‘5th Stand’ mobile application.
The Times alleged that Twelvetree regularly and openly humiliated employees in front of their co-workers – with some taking prolonged medical leave, apparently in a bid to safeguard their mental health.
Ten staff members left the club altogether, while the department was also stunned by the suicide of a well-respected colleague in January of this year. It is understood that the former staff member had been fired the prior September after returning to work from medical leave.
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
A coroner’s report reviewed by the Times said that his suicide was linked to “despair following the loss of his job.”
Earlier this year, the club undertook what was described as a “cultural review” of their marketing department – but employees saw little use in it, given that the review would be overseen by Twelvetree.
However, the club’s new ownership have confirmed that they have launched another investigation into “allegations that have been made under previous ownership“.
“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,” the club said in a statement.
Chelsea added that “initial steps have been taken by the new owners to instill an environment consistent with our values,” though it remains unclear if any action has been taken against Twelvetree – who did not comment in the New York Times story.
Concerns remain among staff members at the club, particularly given the recent change in ownership which saw US businessman Todd Boehly spearhead a takeover after previous owner Roman Abramovich opted to sell the club amid a haze of sanctions placed upon him following the onset of the Russian military campaign in Ukraine.
Bruce Buck, the outgoing chairman, is thought that have been aware of the allegations against Twelvetree and counselled staff members through various situation linked to it.
Guy Laurence, the chief executive who ran daily operations at the club and also dealt with similar complaints, has also stepped down, prompting fears among workers that avenues to which they directed complaints have been removed.
But judging by their words at least, the Boehly-run Chelsea seem insistent on rooting out any of the misgivings which festered the previous regime.