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Oct 30, 2012

Liverpool apologise to fan

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre has apologised to a supporter who was allegedly threatened by club communications director Jen Chang over a spoof Twitter account.

Manchester-based copywriter Sean Cummins acquired more than 40,000 followers on the social networking site after setting up an account under the alias of fictional journalist Duncan Jenkins.

Cummins published information picked up second-hand from websites and the tweets of mainstream journalists, but Chang is said to have believed that it was being leaked by an insider at the club.

CCTV footage has confirmed that the two men met at a Manchester restaurant in August, and Cummins alleges that Chang demanded to know who was passing on information to him.

In a detailed blog post published earlier this month, Cummins alleged that Chang, a former employee of ESPN and Sports Illustrated, said he had cost the club money because his tweets meant Roma's asking price for striker Fabio Borini increased by £300,000. It is then claimed Chang threatened him, suggesting he could have "dog s*** coming through [his] letterbox" should he continue to tweet about club matters and that he "might even have to move house" because "football fans are crazy".

Chang told the Daily Mail on October 15 that those allegations were "fictitious nonsense", but Ayre is understood to have met Cummins twice to hear his side of the story and has handed over a letter of apology that has been seen by both the Sporting Intelligence website and the Independent newspaper.

The letter contained no tacit admission that Chang made any threats, or whether he would be disciplined by the club.

An extract from Ayre's letter read: "It is apparent that you clearly feel that you have not been treated in a manner that is becoming of a Liverpool FC official.

"Based on everything I have heard and seen, including information provided by parties involved in this matter, I acknowledge that some of the elements you highlight were not appropriate.

"If you perceive them to be threatening, that is not behaviour that is acceptable for a member of staff. I would therefore like to apologise to you on behalf of Liverpool FC for any upset and distress this has caused you.

"Clearly it is not appropriate for me to comment on how the club is managing this internally and I trust you understand this."

Cummins has accepted Ayre's apology.

He said: "As a Liverpool supporter, I fully appreciate that our great club has got a lot more serious issues to handle than what a spoof character was writing on Twitter.

"It was never, ever my intention to distract from those issues, and I was shocked and surprised things unfolded as they have done, over a made-up character who was always clearly trivial. All I ever wanted was an apology and I got one in writing today."

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