Chelsea shirt sponsor Three suspends partnership with club amid Abramovich sanctions
The suspension comes as owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK over his links to Vladimir Putin
Mobile network Three have asked Chelsea to temporarily suspend their sponsorship and remove its brand from the club’s shirt and stadium.
A Three spokesman said: "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.
"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 arriving in the UK, and those in Ukraine."
Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the Blues in 2003 and under his stewardship Chelsea have gone on to enjoy a period of unprecedented success.
However, with all of Abramovich’s UK assets being frozen, the proposed sale of the club is now on hold, although the Government could still facilitate a deal.
Chelsea are not permitted to sell any new tickets to supporters or away fans, but all those sold before March 10 will be honoured, while the club are also subject to a transfer ban and cannot negotiate new contracts with current players.
Chelsea will seek amendments to the government’s operating licence in a bid to function more normally.
Stamford Bridge bosses will no doubt look for potential increases in travel costs to away matches among other possible alterations.
“Chelsea Football Club has been advised that its owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK government,” read a Chelsea statement.
“By virtue of his 100 per cent ownership of Chelsea FC plc and affiliated entities, Chelsea FC would normally be subject to the same sanctions regime as Mr Abramovich.
“However, the UK government has issued a general licence that permits Chelsea FC to continue certain activities.
“We will fulfil our men’s and women’s team fixtures today against Norwich and West Ham, respectively, and intend to engage in discussions with the UK government regarding the scope of the licence.
“This will include seeking permission for the licence to be amended in order to allow the club to operate as normal as possible. We will also be seeking guidance from the UK government on the impact of these measures on the Chelsea Foundation and its important work in our communities.
“The club will update further when it is appropriate.”