Chelsea are in talks with a number of companies over a lucrative new front-of-shirt sponsor to replace Three. The move will delight supporters who were angered by the telecommunications giant's reaction to the sanctions imposed on the club last year.
Telegraph Sport understands that Three’s £40million-a-year deal as the club’s principal shirt sponsor is not set to be extended past the end of this season, when their contract runs out.
The Todd Boehly-Clearlake Capital ownership aim to significantly better the £120m deal that was agreed with Three in 2020.
Both Chelsea and Three declined to comment on the matter, but it seems certain that the club will have a new company on the front of their shirts from next season.
Having spent more than £600m during 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 Chelsea ran into controversy last year when the company suspended their sponsorship following the sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich, the former owner.
Chelsea were asked to remove the Three logo from their shirts, which proved impossible, and to take down or cover up their branding inside Stamford Bridge while the company’s corporate box was not used.
That provoked a backlash from 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 their commercial partnership with Chelsea following the sale of the club by Abramovich in June, but that did not stop the anti-Three feeling among sections of fans.
Chelsea’s deal with Three was the joint fourth largest in English football and Boehly and Clearlake will hope to get much closer to, or even better, the £67.5m-a-year deal that Manchester City have with Etihad. Liverpool hold the second biggest shirt sponsorship deal, with Standard Chartered, worth £50m a year.
Former chief commercial and operating officer at City, Tom Glick, was made president of business at Chelsea by Boehly and Clearlake, and the commercial activity of the club has already grown significantly since last summer’s takeover.
As well as holding talks over a front-of-shirt replacement for Three, Chelsea are talking to a host of companies about a new shirt sleeve sponsor after cryptocurrency firm WhaleFin were forced to terminate their £20m-a-year deal after less than 12 months, when they ran 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 to align the club with, as well as the most lucrative contracts on offer.
It is unclear whether or not Chelsea could maintain any form of partnership with Three once the company’s front-of-shirt agreement expires.