Liverpool's communications director Jen Chang has left the club, three weeks after an apology was issued over threats he made to a supporter.
Chang, a former writer and editor at Sports Illustrated, appears to have continued working for the club in recent weeks, having headed back to the United States at the height of the controversy relating to the treatment of Sean Cummins, who launched a spoof comedy Twitter account under the name of Duncan Jenkins. Chang was responding to internal club correspondence at the end of last week and as an overseer of the Liverpool Ladies team is likely to have been involved in the purchase of two players from Everton Ladies, announced on Wednesday.
But his credibility was irrevocably damaged over his attempts to control the ‘Duncan’ output. As The Independent reported last month, the spoof blogger claimed to know details of transfer targets, by tweeting them shortly after mainstream football journalists had published them. Chang threatened that fans would make his life a "living hell" if he did not admit he had no club contacts.
Chang can take credit for opening up access at Liverpool to supporter-driven outlets from outside the established media and he had ambitions to create greater access for all reporters, including midweek press conferences with players. But his determination to control Cummins reflects the way he pounced on transfer stories – in some cases using the medium of Twitter to point out what he wanted to highlight as errors. A number of journalists found that Chang had ‘followed’ them in order to post private direct messages, only to discover as they tried to reply that he ‘unfollowed’ them.
Externally, this seemed to be the aspect of communications which most occupied Chang, who virtually lived on the job, residing in a tower block around the corner from the club’s Chapel Street offices in central Liverpool. He had not been involved in direct media work since his appointment in June to replaced Ian Cotton, who officially left ‘by mutual consent.’ It is unclear whether a new communications director will now even be appointed.
The ‘Jenkins’ character was a hapless, obsessive would-be reporter - a ‘perspiring journalist’ as he described himself, - but Chang tracked ‘him’ down. He undertook a two-hour meeting with Cummins.
Liverpool have not specifically linked Chang’s departure to the ‘Duncan’ incident, stating he had left by mutual consent and returned to the United States for family reasons. Chang had not relocated his wife and children from the United States to Merseyside.
Even as his departure was confirmed, there was more evidence of how Twitter outsiders can predict outcomes, as Jenkins did. The Twitter handle @Karlton81 correctly predicted earlier this week that Lucas Leiva would be back in training on Wednesday and that Chang’s departure would be announced yesterday. To put things in perspective, he also retweeted that Fernando Torres has asked Chelsea if he might rejoin Liverpool and that manager Brendan Rodgers is interested.