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Three UK ‘temporarily’ suspend Chelsea sponsorship as impact of Russia sanctions hits local

Collateral damage from the UK government

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Chelsea FC - Stamford Bridge - Roman Abramovich Sanctioned Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images

Following the sanctions levied on Roman Abramovich by the UK government this morning, including a freezing of his UK-based assets including Chelsea Football Club, Three UK have decided to “temporarily” suspend their sponsorship of the club.

It’s unclear what this means exactly in terms of the financials of this £40m/year deal, which is (was?) in the second year of its three-year contract. For now, Three UK’s (rather unsightly) logo will be removed from the shirts, perhaps as early as today’s match against Norwich City, though that may have been a rather short turnaround. Maybe we’ll just turn the shirts inside out.

Other sponsors are said to be reviewing their agreements as well because everyone wants to be on the palatable side of the current optics in this situation.

(Can we resume merchandising so we can buy shirts without logos? That’d be cool.)

“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.

“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.”

-Three UK statement; source: The Athletic

So that’s all well and good, but when all these sanctions and knock-on effects begin affecting the local community, who are we really hurting in any meaningful way? And that’s after a two-year pandemic where Chelsea not only didn’t furlough anyone, but opened up club facilities to support the NHS and others working to combat the disease...