A chauffeur at Liverpool football club, who was responsible for driving players, managers, its owners and their families was constructively dismissed after blowing the whistle over allegations of ticket-touting by a club official, an employment tribunal heard.
Former police officer Dave Sloan occupied a position of “great trust” at the Premiership side but alleges he was side-lined and eventually forced out after raising concerns over illicit ticket sales, the hearing in Liverpool was told.
The lifelong fan, who was present at the Hillsborough disaster, said he grew suspicious after noticing the executive’s bank balance had increased by £40,000.
Mr Sloan, 50, worked for Liverpool for four years having been hired as the former managing director Christian Purslow’s personal driver. He said he would routinely chauffeur players including Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, as well as manager Brendan Rodgers, his wife and Liverpool owner John W Henry and family in the company’s luxury Audi A8.
The tribunal was told that Mr Sloan was part of a special team at the side’s executive HQ responsible for attending to the personal needs of players. Among his tasks were cleaning and filling up young footballers’ cars with fuel whilst others would help finding accommodation for new signings, arranging schools for their children and opening bank accounts.
Bur Mr Sloan alleges that his role was reduced after a change in the management structure and following his decision to blow the whistle on alleged ticket-touting he would often be left “twiddling his thumbs” at the Melwood training ground whilst private contractors ferried the club’s millionaire stars.
He was eventually told to stay at home and brought in only to carry out “menial tasks” such as hoovering and fixing a wall clock for one of the club’s refurbished training ground restaurant, he told the tribunal.
Under cross examination by Lydia Edgar, representing Liverpool FC, Mr Sloan said he had had a good relationship with the executive team. “Sometimes I would take them on social occasions when they had one too many and I would look after them,” he said.
But relations soured following an incident in which he was sent to travel to Ibiza to take a visa to £35m striker Andy Carroll to allow him to join the club’s US pre-season tour.
During the trip it was alleged he had become agitated and sworn three times in front of Carroll, upsetting him. During a disciplinary meeting with bosses in August 2012 he was told that when dealing with players he should “have the patience of a saint”, the tribunal was told.
He was also warned about smoking in front of the team bus. In addition Mr Sloan said he was accused by his line manager of being “overhelpful”. He said: “I was told I was being disruptive by going in and having conversations with people and being generally friendly and saying hello … it was distracting people,” he said.
Mr Sloan said he had been told not to talk to Carroll. “I did approach him and asked him and he knew nothing about the incident … he actually laughed about it,” he said.
In his witness statement Mr Sloan claimed to have been he told by a security contractor at Anfield that one of bosses, player liaison manager Ray Haughan had been involved in alleged ticket-touting – allegations he denies.
The driver said he was routinely asked to go to the cash machine by Mr Haughan, and on one occasion noticed that his balance had increased by “approximately £40,000”, Mrs Edgar said.
Mr Sloan said: “There were allegations and rumours. My concerns were something was going on. I didn’t know exactly what was going on but I had concerns over this issue.”
He added: “I thought if this is going on and fans outside haven’t got tickets and someone inside is making money, that’s not right.”
The chauffeur eventually shared his concerns with another executive – a meeting which began the official whistle-blowing procedure.
“Mr Haughan used to look after players’ money. We are talking about thousands of pounds of money. Players used to come in and put this on the table. He used to put this in the drawer, no book-keeping no accounts,” he added. Under questioning from Mrs Edgar, Mr Sloan said he did not believe the money was put into Mr Haughan’s bank account.
But after raising his concerns over ticket-touting, Mr Sloan said he became anxious and struggled to sleep claiming to colleagues that he was being “treated like a skivvie” by Mr Haughan, it was claimed.
The matter eventually came to a head at a Christmas party hosted by club manager Brendan Rodgers at the Hope Hotel in Liverpool for club staff. Mr Sloan denied being drunk at the event, claiming he had had a “few beers” but was in control. At the party he told a group of senior executives he believed Mr Haughan was “robbing the club blind,” the tribunal was told
Mrs Edgar read statements from witnesses including Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre who claimed he was confronted twice by Mr Sloan describing him as “going ballistic, gesticulating in his face and getting angrier and angrier.”
Mr Ayre said the chauffeur was complaining that he was not being shown enough respect, the tribunal heard. Mrs Edgar said the driver had to be physically restrained and removed from the premises after appearing to “lunge violently with his fists” – only to return later to continue his altercation with the club boss.
Asked whether he claiming there was “some sort of collusion” against him, Mr Sloan replied: “I am.”
He was suspended the following day. Liverpool FC denies any allegations of wrongdoing.
The tribunal continues.