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June 16, 2022

Three and Chelsea get front-of-shirt deal back on track after ownership change

Three, the UK telecoms operator and mobile network, has resumed marketing activity through its main sponsorship deal with Chelsea, the heavyweight side from English soccer’s top-tier Premier League, after the club’s recent takeover by a new ownership group.

By Euan Cunningham

Three, the UK telecoms operator and mobile network, has resumed marketing activity through its main sponsorship deal with Chelsea, the heavyweight side from English soccer’s top-tier Premier League, after the club’s recent takeover by a new ownership group.

Three and Chelsea struck a three-season front-of-shirt deal in January 2020, which covered the 2020-21 to 2022-23 campaigns and saw the brand’s logo featured on the team’s shirt fronts.

However, in mid-March, the deal was suspended in response to the UK’s government sanctioning Chelsea’s then-owner Roman Abramovich over links to Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.

The sanctions, brought in a few weeks after Putin ordered the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February, had a damaging effect on the London club’s commercial portfolio. Multiple Chelsea sponsors, including Three and Korean automotive giant Hyundai, the club’s sleeve sponsor last year, terminated their deals during the first fortnight in March.

Earlier this month, though, the sale of Chelsea by Abramovich to a group headed up by US businessman and sports owner Todd Boehly was finalized.

Chelsea have now revealed that Three “are restarting their marketing activities with immediate effect” in a statement that acknowledges the termination in March was due to the sanctions on the club.

John Rogers, head of global partnerships at Chelsea, has said: “Following the recent pause in their activities, the club is pleased to have resumed our work with Three and we look forward with excitement to the start of the new season, together.

“We would like to thank all club partners for their support now and in the future.”

Even after the Three-Chelsea deal was suspended in March, the company’s branding remained on the team’s shirts for the remainder of 2021-22. It was reported at the time that because of the sanctions the club was operating under, they could not spend the money to buy new kit without the logo in place.

Last month, Chelsea brought in Amber Group, a Singapore-based asset management corporation, as their sleeve sponsor from the start of 2022-23.

The deal, which is reportedly worth £20 million ($24.3 million) per year, will see Amber Group’s WhaleFin cryptocurrency asset division put its logo and branding on the shirt sleeves of both the men’s and women’s Chelsea teams from the start of next season.

Chelsea have said that through the deal, via which Amber Group will become “the first digital asset partner” for the London side, the Singapore company will “introduce WhaleFin to soccer fans around the world.”

WhaleFin’s logo will replace Hyundai’s on the sleeves of the Chelsea first team.

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