The owner’s hands-on approach to business has brought many changes such as transitioning to new roles and cleaning up the board.
One of the new hires in the board room was Damian Willoughby, who took his seat as a commercial director at the London-based club.
The Englishman, prior to joining Chelsea, was a vice president of global partnerships at Electronic Arts (EA).
Before that, he was with another PL team, Manchester City, in several senior positions, one of them being the CEO of Indian operations.
Willoughby has also previously worked at Chelsea between 2007-10, one of his roles being the head of sponsorships and international development.
Damian’s second stint at Chelsea started on September 5th, 2022, under the new ownership to run the club’s commercial activities worldwide and drive off-the-field revenue.
However, only 15 days into his role, he has been sacked by the club.
Damian has been accused of sending lewd texts to a female football finance agent, Catalina Kim.
Catalina Kim is a highly successful agent who has her own sports agency named C&P Sports.
The agency has brokered multi-million-pound deals like the one between Samsung and Italian club AC Milan.
The gory details
There have been inappropriate texts sent by Willoughby to Kim before joining Chelsea; the inappropriate messages started in 2021.
On June 30, Catalina asked Kim if he could introduce her to Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano.
Willoughby replied: “When you come to London will you be naughty?” Kim rejected him multiple times and again asked if she could meet the chief exec.
Willoughby initially said “happy to connect you”, but added in a new message: “If you promise to be naughty one night.”
Coming to July 2021, Willoughby asked about Kim’s morning, who replied that she was being “lazy” and still in bed.
He replied: “Naked obviously”. When Kim said: “Not obviously”, he replied: “Haha send pic. I am naked.”
He then offered to send Kim a picture, but she replied: “No please.”
In the same conversation later, after he had suggested booking a penthouse for them, Kim reminded Willoughby that he was married.
Six days later, Willoughby sent an alleged sexually explicit video, which led Kim to ask: “Are you not going to apologise for the traumatic video you’ve shared with me?”
On July 29, Willoughby asked Kim: “Remind me what days were we not having sex?”
To which she replied: “That is Mondays to Sundays” before adding that a business dinner they were arranging would not “increase the possibility of having sex.”
The agent is currently working with the Blues on behalf of unnamed investors who were looking at the Champions League winners as an investment opportunity.
Catalina recently lodged a complaint against Willoughby with Chelsea’s head of business Tom Glick, showing the messages and lewd requests sent as recent as 3rd September 2022, merely 2 days before he joined Chelsea.
Despite the texts happening before Willoughby joined Chelsea, the club has swiftly terminated him effective immediately claiming it is not in line with the values and working environment that they want to embody.
With Chelsea also trying to search for a sports director, the added search for a commercial director is another one of the long lines of issues that the club will have to account for.
Instances like these have no place in society, let alone football. And we are happy about Chelsea’s brave decision to sack the director and not brush it under the carpet.