The Blues’ owner has seen his assets in the UK frozen, with commercial partners now mulling over their next moves
Chelsea have been forced to close their club shop following sanctions imposed on owner Roman Abramovich, while telecommunications company Three have revealed that their shirt sponsorship deal, which is worth £40 million ($53m) per season, is under “review”.
A Russian billionaire that has been at the Stamford Bridge helm since 2003 has seen his assets in the UK frozen as government officials seek to limit the power and influence of businesses and individuals with ties to Vladimir Putin following his invasion of Ukraine.
Chelsea are now prevented from selling tickets and merchandise, while commercial partners are mulling over their next moves.
The Blues’ official store at their Stamford Bridge base has been shut “until further notice”, with Abramovich – who had been looking to sell Chelsea – being prevented from making any kind of profit from his business interests in the United Kingdom.
Three have been principal shirt sponsors of Chelsea since 2020, when they succeeded Yokohama Tyres, and were tied into an initial three-year agreement.
That deal is now being assessed, with a statement from the company reading: “We are in discussions with Chelsea and we are reviewing our position.”
There have also been suggestions that the club’s kit supplier, Nike, could review its £55m ($72m) deal with the west London outfit.
Conrad Wiacek, Head of Sport Analysis at GloblalData, a leading data and analytics company, has said: “Sanctions placed on Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich by the UK government casts a shadow over Chelsea’s many commercial agreements, including its $52.5 million front-of-shirt deal with Telecom’s brand 3 and its $72 million kit deal with Nike.
“While Chelsea has a sporting licence to continue trading as a soccer club, many brands will be wary of guilt by association.
“Chelsea FC is still one of the biggest clubs in the world and its on-field success still makes it an attractive commercial partner. However, given the rate at which many brands are looking to dissociate themselves from the Russian state, some may be wary of continuing partnerships.
“Nike’s deal with Chelsea runs until 2032, so the apparel brand may decide to wait the situation out until the club’s sale is able to continue. However, brands such as Hyundai and Hublot, which have deals worth over $20 million combined expiring at the end of 2021-22 season, may not have that luxury.”