Chelsea have reportedly sacked commercial director Damian Willoughby for sending “inappropriate messages” to football finance agent Catalina Kim.
Willoughby – who has been at the club for less than a month – was fired on Tuesday after Kim filed a complaint with Chelsea’s business chief Tom Glick, who hired Willoughby.
Kim told Glick that she had been sexually harassed by Willoughby prior to being hired by the club and claimed she felt threatened over the phone while he worked for the Blues.
Willoughby previously worked at Chelsea between 2007 and 2010, and his dismissal comes just three months after Todd Boehle and the new property association promised to “instill a new environment consistent with our values”.
As I mentioned telegraphA Chelsea statement read: “Chelsea Football Club can confirm that it has terminated the appointment of Commercial Director Damian Willoughby with immediate effect.
Evidence of inappropriate messages sent by Mr Willoughby, prior to his appointment to Chelsea earlier this month, has recently been presented and investigated. While they were sent prior to his appointment to the club, such behavior is completely at odds with the workplace environment and corporate culture created by the club’s new ownership.
Club owners work tirelessly to set and achieve the highest standards on and off the field, and are determined to nurture a culture of transparency, accountability, inclusion, diversity and opportunity. The club is committed to creating an environment that embodies these values.
Kim had been in talks with Glick on behalf of foreign investors who wanted to pump hundreds of millions of pounds into the club, but those talks stalled in the weeks after her complaint.
The report claims that Kim showed Glick “inappropriate messages” in which Willoughby asked her if she was nude, posted an allegedly explicit video, and raised the subject of sex.
Willoughby has also worked with Manchester City for some time, and in one text, he is said to have told Kim he would arrange a meeting with City CEO Ferran Soriano if she was willing to be “naughty”.
Kim Willoughby first met in 2015 when he was in City and repeatedly rejected his attempts, reminding him that he was married in response to the messages, according to The Telegraph, which has seen the exchange.
The letters reportedly became furious in March after Kim invested in Sir Martin Bruton’s consortium rivaling Todd Boehle’s bid to buy Chelsea, after turning down an offer from Willoughby to do the same.
Gleick informed Kim in an email on August 29 that Willoughby was Chelsea’s new commercial director and a meeting between the trio took place at Stamford Bridge on September 1.
Kim first raised his concerns about Willoughby immediately after the meeting before sending Glick screenshots of the candid messages two days before Willoughby’s start date at the club.
She says she never complained before because she hoped she wouldn’t have to work with Willoughby again and didn’t want to spoil her other professional relationships, but had to take action after the meeting.
Kim said in a statement: “I can confirm that I have lodged a complaint with Tom Glick about the general conduct of Damien Willoughby over a two-year period, including his recent threatening phone call. I strongly believe this is not a working environment and institutional culture in which any Premier League club can bear it.”
Willoughby and his lawyers declined to comment.