Ex Fulham Assistant Director of Football ordered to pay Glenn £100k
Written by Simon Austin — March 7, 2021
CRAIG KLINE, Fulham’s former Assistant Director of Football Operations, has been ordered to pay ex-Football Association Chief Executive Martin Glenn £100,000 in damages, plus costs, for “libel and harassment”.
High Court Judge Richard Spearman said Kline had subjected Glenn, who left the FA in December 2018, to a “prolonged” online attack that “threatened… the claimant’s livelihood and professional standing.”
Kline, who exited Fulham in November 2017, did not file a defence to the court and must now issue a statement admitting his wrongdoing. The court found there was no foundation to his allegations.
The campaign of harassment began in November 2018, with Kline accusing Glenn of being corrupt in his dealings with Fulham owner Shahid Khan over the proposed sale of Wembley Stadium. Mainly via his Twitter account, Kline went on to accuse Glenn of covering up child sex abuse and organised criminal activity.
He also contacted the FA Board to make allegations, as well as MPs and the House of Lords.
“The allegations were very serious, and went to the core elements of the claimant’s life,” Judge Spearman said. “They threatened, and indeed may be said to have been designed to threaten, the claimant’s livelihood and professional standing.
“They resulted not only in an in-depth investigation at the FA but also a continuing need for the claimant to allay the concerns of organisations where he held office.
“It was particularly hurtful and distressing that the claimant was accused, entirely without foundation, of being complicit in covering up child abuse when, in truth, he was concerned to ensure that the FA took safeguarding very seriously.”
The FA launched its own independent investigation into the allegations, with Glenn surrendering his mobile phone, computer and laptop to a team of ex-police officers as part of their inquiries. Kline failed to submit any evidence to the investigation, despite being invited to do so, and Glenn was fully exonerated.
However, the campaign of harassment continued until June last year, forcing Glenn, by now chairman of the Football Foundation, to take legal action. Glenn said he did not expect to see any of the money awarded, but that if he did he would "donate it to the Football Foundation for a 3G pitch in a deprived area near Fulham.”
Martin Glenn - 'it was hurting people around me'
The former FA Chief Executive has spoken for the first time about the campaign of harassment in an interview with The Times.
He said: "I’ve never actually met Craig Kline but my wife was concerned he might turn up at our house. When I explored new areas of employment, the issue would come up. And the worst one was the Football Foundation. I took on the chairmanship in January 2020.
"When that was announced, Kline wrote to a gaggle of MPs and members of the House of Lords, and a group of other people, repeating what was really scurrilous stuff. ‘Glenn covers up paedophilia, Glenn is a known criminal, Glenn accepted bribes and was in Shad Khan’s pocket’.
“The Football Foundation then had to inform the Charity Commission that their new chairman had been accused of this, that and the other. It was fine once they saw the audit trail, but distressing all the same.
“In the middle of last year I also took on the chair of another company. In their due diligence this all came up again. What I had to explain to the judge was the reputational issue. People think there is no smoke without fire. They see Kline as the most high-ranking whistleblower in football.
"I didn’t feel he was being taken seriously... but after a period of silence he came after me again and I just felt enough was enough. It was hurting people around me and I commenced legal proceedings. It was causing me a reputational problem but also embarrassment.
"My kids are social media literate. My friends were seeing this stuff. It felt like mud was sticking, so I had to pursue it legally.”
Controversial tenure at Fulham
Kline (pictured below) is a University friend of Fulham’s Director of Football Operations and Vice Chairman Tony Khan, who is the son of owner Shahid Khan. The American was appointed Director of Statistical Research by the club in October 2014 and in February 2017 was promoted to Assistant Director of Football Operations.
However, his tenure was marked by acrimony and controversy. He was described by other members of staff as being volatile and difficult to deal with and had strained relationships with several key members of staff, including manager Slavisa Jokanovic, who questioned Kline's influence and the fact he seemed to hold sway when when it came to transfers.
"It generally depends on this guy [Kline] who is going to sign for us or not," Jokanovic said. "The last decision is in the hands of this man. It is not my business. I'm a little bit disappointed because no one knows who this guy [Kline] is. Instead, he's sitting in the directors' box."
Kline had threatened to resign on several occasions before being sacked following the 1-1 home draw with Bolton at the end of October 2017. There was a report he had called police to the club's Motspur Park training ground because of a number of long-standing grievances he held against the club.
In a separate hearing last November, a High Court Judge ruled that Kline had breached "a number of confidentiality and non-disparagement undertakings" he had given on November 22nd 2017 after leaving the club.
The court heard that Kline admitted 42 breaches of a court order in tweets, or posts, between December 14th 2018 and February 4th 2019, but contested that 16 subsequent posts did not breach the injunction.
The date of a further hearing to determine his punishment has not yet been announced, but Kline could potentially face two years in prison.