Since the beginning of the 2020/21 season, Chelsea’s shirt sponsor has been the mobile network, Three, with the club’s shirts being emblazoned with the company’s “3” logo. However, in 2022, following Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, Three actually requested that their logo should be temporarily removed from the Blues’ shirts.
This was because the British government imposed sanctions on any Russian nationals with ties to Putin’s regime that were either living in the UK or owned assets there. This included Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner at the time of the invasion, which led the mobile network to request that their sponsorship with the club should be suspended indefinitely, and that their logo should be taken off the kits.
However, this was never implemented, and the club continued to sport kits with the brand’s “3” logo for the remainder of the 2021/22 campaign. In this article, we will explain why the logo was never removed, and also take a look at whether Three will continue their sponsorship with the club into the 2023/24 season.
Why Did Three Want Their Logo Removed from Chelsea’s Kits?
On the 10th of March, 2022, following the government’s decision to impose sanctions on Roman Abramovich, a spokesperson for Three 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.” Essentially they were seeking to end the link between the two parties with immediate effect.
To show compassion and solidarity with the people of Ukraine, the mobile network also announced that they would be offering free connectivity packages to all Ukrainian refugees that arrived in the UK. The company’s request was polite, one that you would assume Chelsea’s hierarchy would honour. So, why wasn’t this the case?
Why Didn’t Chelsea Remove the Logo from Their Shirts?
Despite Three’s request, the club were unable to remove the logo from their shirts. This was actually due to the sanctions placed on Abramovich; as his assets had been frozen, and whilst he was searching for a new owner to purchase Chelsea, the club were unable to make the cash necessary to address this sponsorship issue available. This therefore left the Blues just like the Russian’s assets: frozen in place.
Because of this, the club had to regretfully ignore Three’s request whilst they waited for any potential sale to go through, which meant that the 3 logo was at no point removed from Chelsea’s kits. Strange as it may seem they did not have any suitable (plain) replacement kit to wear. Whilst it would not have cost a huge amount of money to order new shirts, with their assets frozen, this cash just wasn’t available. Makes a change for Chelsea not to be able to splash the cash, eh?
Why Do the Club Still Have the 3 Logo on Their Shirts Now?
Although Three had sought to terminate their sponsorship with the west London side, this was solely due to the sanctions placed on Abramovich, and once the Russian owner was able to sell the club to Todd Boehly and co, the mobile network was able to “resume activities” with the Blues. This meant that Chelsea’s agreement with Three, worth a reported £40 million per season, was able to carry on as normal for the 2022/23 season, ensuring that the club’s kits would continue to be emblazoned with the classic “3” logo.
Will Chelsea’s Kits Be Sponsored by Three for the 2023/24 Season?
Following the end of Chelsea’s shirt sponsorship deal with Yokohama Tyres in 2020, the club were able to sign their current lucrative deal with Three, which was, rather fittingly, a three-year agreement. That deal is set to expire in the summer of 2023.
We can therefore assume, unless a new deal is struck between the Blues and the mobile network, which seems unlikely at this point, that their shirts will be sporting a brand-new sponsor for the 2023/24 season.
Both on and off the field, the club’s partnership with Three has been fairly turbulent. Not only have they seen long-standing owner Roman Abramovich be forced to sell up, but they have overseen some of Chelsea’s most inconsistent and often frustrating on-pitch performances.
Despite winning the Champions League in the first season of Three’s sponsorship, the Blues seem to have recently faded out of contention, both in the Premier League and in Europe, despite new owner Todd Boehly splashing the cash on every possible occasion. Chelsea are in something of a transitional period at present, and Champions League football looks highly unlikely in 2023/34, to say the least. Under these circumstances the Blues may struggle to attract the sort of high-value sponsorship deal they are seeking, and are used to.