New Chelsea owner makes pledge on ‘toxic culture’
Chelsea's new owner Todd Boehly has vowed to make changes within the club's culture, days after a damning report into a toxic culture of bullying within the club's marketing department was published by the New York Times.
Boehly, who completed a takeover of the Premier League side from Roman Abramovich in late May, has told club employees that workplace bullying will not be tolerated under the new regime after it was reported this week that a former high-ranking staff member of the club's television station took his own life in January - with a coroner's report blaming his death in part on him being “deeply troubled by anxiety, depression and despair following the loss of his job”.
The York Times report detailed that Bignell, who had been a long-term employee of the club, was sacked in September just one day after returning from a spell of medical leave.
The newspaper detailed that Bignell and several other employees had become troubled by dealings with a club executive.
The Abramovich regime, in what turned out to be one of its final acts, hired a firm to conduct an independent review into allegations made by some staff members, however this was largely seen as ineffective by staff members due to it being overseen by the same executive who was the source of many of the complaints.
The executive, who staff say had a particularly aggressive management style, with Bignell and several others said to have been troubled by it. Several staff members took medical leave under his employ, while as many as ten staff members resigned - with several of those blaming the executive as the reason for leaving in their exit interviews.
U.S. businessman Boehly, who completed the takeover alongside investment group Clearlake Capital, is understood to have placed the allegations highly among his first orders of business at the club, telling staff in an open letter, “while we have a winning team on the pitch … we need to review and analyze how we can improve the club’s culture”.
“The physical and mental health and wellbeing of all of our people is paramount,” Boehly said. “Our mission is to create a workplace environment that empowers everyone to be safe, included, valued and trusted. We will work tirelessly to set and achieve the highest standards.”
He added that Chelsea must “be a beacon of hope, positive and good leadership for fans, employees and communities we serve.”
The executive in question has yet to comment but online reports indicate that he remains an employee of the club.
Chelsea, meanwhile, reached out to the family of the departed Bignell and said that a new and fully independent review will be conducted into the allegations.
“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,” they said.
“The club has appointed an external review team to investigate the allegations that have been made under previous ownership. Upon learning about the circumstances, new ownership has proactively reached out to Richard’s family through their counsel.”