It is with immense sadness that Chelsea Football Club learned of the passing of our former director Simon Greenberg at the age of only 52.
Simon was appointed the club’s director of communications in 2004, the first person to undertake that new full-time position at Chelsea. It was the early stages of Roman Abramovich’s ownership and Chelsea was rapidly modernising and expanding into a globally renowned football power, and Simon played an important part in that, advising the club’s owner and Board on policy and strategy.
Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck said: ‘We were deeply saddened to hear of Simon’s illness, and then devastated to learn of his passing. Simon’s time at the club covered a period of incredible growth and new success, and he thrived under the pressure the media attention provided. Simon played a vitally important role and helped carry the club through those hectic times with enthusiasm and wit, just two of his many impressive characteristics that made him such a pleasure to work with and be around.
‘We hope the shared memories his family and friends have of Simon help them through this difficult period and the time ahead. We will always remember Simon very fondly here at Chelsea Football Club.’
On moving from Fleet Street, where he had held top jobs in sports journalism, Simon’s work at Stamford Bridge was under a media spotlight that was shining more intensely than on any club before.
Jose Mourinho was appointed Chelsea manager the same summer and colourful and highly successful times followed, with Simon busy overseeing a professional approach to dealing with the intense news interest as well as the club’s own media output, which was growing in the digital field especially. It was during his time as head of communications that Chelsea FC launched on Facebook and Twitter.
To the football-watching public, Simon was most visible when sitting alongside Mourinho in charge of some of the most iconic press conferences of the Premier League and Champions League era. It was also the birth of the modern-style pre-season tour, with the squad travelling to the United States or Asia for not only warm-up matches, but also a range of other community-based activities to build interest and fanbase thousands of miles from south-west London. Simon was prominent in those.
More hidden work but with a lasting legacy was the establishment of the club’s first corporate social responsibility programme, the forerunner to the Chelsea Foundation. That project, plus the tackling of discrimination and promotion of equality and diversity more strongly than seen before at Chelsea, are worthy tributes to Simon’s work at the club. He left in 2009 to become chief of staff of England’s 2018 World Cup bid before returning to the world of journalism.
Simon will be sorely missed by former colleagues at the club and we send our heartfelt condolences to Simon’s family and friends.