Chelsea will play without a shirt sponsor after mobile telecommunications company, Three, announced they are suspending their £40million a year deal ($52.4million) with immediate effect, a report by ESPN said on Thursday.
The decision comes on the same day the club’s owner, Roman Abramovich, was sanctioned by the UK authorities for his alleged ties to Russia President, Vladimir Putin, amid the country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The telecommunications company is midway through a three-year agreement, which is due to expire at the end of the 2022-23 season but has asked for its logo to be removed from the club’s kit, Stamford Bridge and Chelsea’s Cobham training base.
“In light of the government’s recently announced sanctions, we have requested Chelsea Football Club temporarily suspend our sponsorship of the club, including the removal of our brand from shirts and around the stadium until further notice,” read a statement.
“We recognise that this decision will impact the many Chelsea fans who follow their team passionately.
“However, we feel that given the circumstances, and the government sanction that is in place, it is the right thing to do.
“As a mobile network, the best way we can support the people of Ukraine is to ensure refugees arriving in the UK from the conflict and customers currently in Ukraine can stay connected to the people who matter to them. Therefore, we are offering connectivity packages to all Ukrainians in the UK, and those in Ukraine.”
Chelsea are due to play Norwich City at Carrow Road on Thursday and the club is not expected to wear the Three logo on their shirts.
Other sponsors are believed to be reviewing their relationship with the Blues, whose latest set of accounts published in December for the year ending June 30, 2021, revealed an income of £153.6m ($201.2m) in commercial revenues.
SAHARAREPORTERS, NEW YORK