It should be noted, maybe, that Nike are a US company where Abramovich has not (yet) been sanctioned, and it’s also looking likely at the moment that Chelsea’s new owners will be American as well.
Chelsea have been issued a special “General Licence” to continue operating despite the sanctions put on club owner Roman Abramovich — because, as Thomas Tuchel it put, “we did not cause the situation and we cannot solve the situation” — but for many, the club have become tainted, forbidden fruit. And as we all know that these days, perception and PR rule the social fabric of the world. (Perhaps that was always the case, and our connected world and social media just exacerbated it. Anyway.)
Shirt sponsors Three UK were the first to run after the horse that’s already bolted, “temporarily suspending” their £40m per year sponsorship. Chelsea still played with their logo on the shirts last night since they dropped this announcement an hour before kick-off. Perhaps we will replace their unsightly symbol with something nicer, like a “message of peace” or “Roman Abramovich Ukraine Foundation” (hey, it worked for Barcelona).
Plan International UK jumped soon after, ending their 7-year partnership with the club three months early. As a charitable partner of the club, Plan were certainly a great beneficiary of Abramovich’s generosity (“sportswashing”, if you want) for things beyond just transfer fees.
“Since the conflict began, Plan International UK has been reviewing our partnership activity with Chelsea Football Club. In light of the sanctions imposed today by the UK Government on Roman Abramovich, we are bringing forward the closure of our partnership with Chelsea Football Club, which was due to end in May 2022.”
Others haven’t yet made a decision. Shirt-sleeve sponsors Hyundai, whose deal is also ending already this season, are “assessing the situation”, as per their statement today, while Nike are reportedly doing the same, though that report is only from the Daily Mail at this point. We’re just about halfway through the 15-year, £900m sponsorship with them. (Nike, not the Mail.)
| Chelsea sponsor Hyundai issue statement on partnership— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 11, 2022
“Hyundai has become one of the strongest partners in football over the years and the company supports the sport to be a force for good. We are currently assessing the situation with Chelsea FC.” pic.twitter.com/3GK4VD61QK
One major sponsor is sticking by the club however, with “training wear partner” Trivago deciding to not leave the club high and dry, stranded on a desert island of sanctions. After all, Chelsea are much more than just a football club, and certainly much more than one owner in our 117-year history. (Yesterday was our birthday in fact, or re-birth-day when we look back some years from now.)
“As a global travel brand, we believe in connecting and bringing people together. These are values shared by Chelsea FC, an institution that is now 117 years old with a tradition so vitally important to its fans and communities, both locally and globally, and that is why we decided to partner with the club last year.
“The uncertainty over the current ownership situation of Chelsea has been challenging. Moving forward, it is important to us to continue supporting the club, the fans and community along with the essential work that the Chelsea Foundation does to help those in need.
“We are looking forward to a transition of ownership as soon as possible, and want to support the club in this process. We will provide any update to our business relationship if and when appropriate.
“As a company of global citizens, we cannot condone the unprovoked and catastrophic invasion of Ukraine. We believe in a free world, freedom of speech and peace. We continue our efforts together with our teams to support the humanitarian efforts and to ease the suffering of the affected population. We stand with Ukraine.”
-Trivago statement; source: The Athletic
The details (length, amount) of Trivago’s deal were never disclosed nor reported in detail, but it’s likely to be around £10m per year.
Always rated them.