Liverpool Football club have fired Media Relations Officer Jen Chang following threats he made to destroy and intimidate a local blogger.
According to the Guardian, both sides are sticking to the scarcely believable ‘mutual consent’ line:
“Jen Chang has left his post as director of communications at Liverpool by “mutual consent”, the club have confirmed….
Liverpool did not specifically link Chang’s departure to that incident but a spokesman said he had returned to the US, where he previously worked Sports Illustrated, “for family reasons”.
Chang had met with Sean Cummins, the man behind a spoof twitter account DuncanJenkinsFC which tweeted scoops on Liverpool FC and threatened to release his address to fans through the media and destroy his father’s family business.
After Chang initially denied the accusations, Liverpool Managing Director Ian Ayre was forced into a writing a humiliating letter of apology to Cummins.
Cummins’ twitter account parodied real journalists but often guessed Liverpool FC signings and line ups correctly.
Chang therefore became convinced Cummins had a source inside the club and refused to believe otherwise when he met Cummins in a Manchester restaurent. He also apparently hired a Private Detective to accumulate a dossier on the self-confessed Liverpool fan.
The dismissal plunges Liverpool into a further PR crisis after last summer where accusations of racism against Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez were bungled by the Anfield club, resulting in the removal of the bulk of the club’s media relations department.
Liverpool’s American owner John Henry and Tom Werner lured Chang from the States where he had worked for ESPN and Sports Illustrated as the hired gun to rehabilitate the club’s international image.
That image now lies in tatters with the club’s reputation for integrity and honesty exposed. Liverpool fans may be also left wondering if Chang’s apparent contempt for the Liverpool supporters, who he said would put ‘dogshit’ through Cummins’ letter box is more widely shared inside the club.
Cummins himself is a Liverpool fan and the insinuation that Chang would use the fanbase as a private army for his own agenda will offend many of them who have worked very hard to preserve the reputation of the Liverpool support in the wake of previous unwarranted accusations in the media.
Chang’s successor has a long hard road ahead.