Chelsea Football Club and its chief executive Peter Kenyon have launched a legal action against the Daily Mail over claims the soccer boss acted unprofessionally over the departure of a colleague.
The defamation action comes after publication of a story headlined “Smith to drag up Chelsea Cat Fight” in September last year.
Kenyon and Chelsea are seeking damages of up to £100,000 from publishers Associated Newspapers, according to a writ filed at London’s High Court.
The writ says the Daily Mail alleged Kenyon acted in a petty and unprofessional way in allowing the decision to sack Chelsea’s business affairs director Paul Smith to be influenced by a catfight between their girlfriends.
The story also claimed Chelsea had falsely presented its decision to sack Smith as “management restructuring”, the writ added.
The writ said that Paul Smith was not suing Chelsea, as alleged in the story.
The complaint also claims the Mail failed to seek any comment from the club or its chief executive before the story appeared and that the story remained available online for some time despite a solicitor’s letter being sent to Associated Newspapers.
Kenyon claims to have suffered stress, anxiety and injured feelings as a result of the story.
Both he and the club claim their reputations have been seriously injured and are seeking an injunction banning repetition of the allegations at the centre of their claim.
Kenyon is due to step down from his full-time role with the club from 31 October but will continue to be a non-executive director and represent Chelsea on various Uefa and the European Clubs’ Association committees.
He joined Chelsea after leaving a similar post at Manchester United and has been at Stamford Bridge since February 2004.