The Daily Telegraph - Sport
Chelsea seek new sponsor to replace £120m Three deal
Fans turned against firm over response to sanctions Transfer frenzy increases need to boost revenue
Chelsea are in talks with a number of companies over a lucrative new front-of-shirt sponsor to replace Three in a move that will delight supporters who were angered by the firm’s reaction to the sanctions imposed on the club last year.
Telegraph Sport understands that Three’s £40million-a-year deal as Chelsea’s principal shirt sponsor is not set to be extended past the end of this season, when its contract with the club runs out.
The Todd Boehly-clearlake Capital ownership are already speaking to various companies with Chelsea aiming to significantly improve on the £120million deal agreed with the telecommunications company in 2020.
Chelsea and Three declined to comment on the matter, but it now seems certain that the club will have a new company emblazoned on the front of their shirts from next season.
Having spent more than £600million over their first two transfer windows in charge, Boehly and Clearlake are well aware of the need to increase Chelsea’s commercial revenues.
Three’s relationship with the club ran into controversy last year, when the company decided to suspend its sponsorship following the sanctions imposed on former owner Roman Abramovich.
Chelsea were asked to remove the Three logo from their shirts, which proved impossible, and to take down or cover up its branding inside Stamford Bridge while the company’s corporate box was not used.
That provoked a backlash from angry supporters, who accused Three of abandoning the club at a time of uncertainty. One fan made a video of himself smashing a Three router, while others left bad reviews of the company on consumer website Trustpilot.
Three resumed its commercial partnership with Chelsea following the sale of the club by Abramovich in June, but that did not stop fans continuing to express their opinions on social media.
Chelsea’s deal with the company was the joint-fourth largest in English football and Boehly and Clearlake will hope to get much closer to, or even better, the £67.5million-ayear deal Manchester City have with Etihad. Liverpool hold the second biggest shirt sponsorship deal, with Standard Chartered, worth £50million a year.
Boehly and Clearlake made Tom Glick, the former chief commercial and operating officer at City, president of business at Chelsea, and the commercial activity of the club has already grown significantly since last summer’s takeover.
As well as now holding talks over a front-of-shirt replacement for Three, Chelsea are talking to a host of companies over securing a new shirt sleeve sponsor after cryptocurrency firm Whalefin was forced to terminate its £20 million-a-year deal less than 12 months after running into economic problems.
Chelsea agreed the Whalefin deal before the Boehly-clearlake takeover and the club’s latest owners are believed to be looking for the best companies and brands with which to align the club, as well as the most lucrative contracts on offer.
It is unclear whether Chelsea could maintain any form of partnership with Three once the company’s front-of-shirt agreement expires.