Chelsea and football fans may have noticed that the Blues did not have a main shirt sponsor in their Premier League match against West Ham on Sunday. It is unusual for one of the league’s biggest clubs to begin a new season without a deal in place. In this blog post, we will look at the reasons Chelsea is currently unsponsored.
End of Three’s Sponsorship Deal
Chelsea’s previous main shirt sponsor was telecommunications company Three, which had a £40 million-per-year deal with the club that expired in the summer. Since then, the club has been in talks with a number of potential replacements for a new sponsorship deal.
Failed Sponsorship Deals
The Blues reportedly had a deal with broadcaster Paramount+, but the Premier League vetoed it because it would upset rights holders. A partnership with gambling company Stake was also considered, but it was met with fan backlash due to controversial links with a Chinese billionaire and alleged criminal associations. Furthermore, the Premier League has prohibited betting companies from being primary shirt sponsors beginning with the 2025–26 season, implying that any deal with a gambling company would only be in place for the short term.
Infinite Athlete Deal
Chelsea has agreed to a sponsorship deal with American technology behemoth Infinite Athlete. However, the Premier League has yet to approve the deal. Chelsea will continue to play without a main shirt sponsor until they receive approval.
Due Diligence Checks
According to reports, the Premier League is conducting due diligence on Chelsea’s latest sponsorship deal with Infinite Athlete. It is currently unknown when the club will be informed whether or not the sponsor will be permitted. The announcement of the new sponsorship deal has been delayed as a result of this process.
What is the Premier League’s Due Diligence?
The Premier League has several due diligence checks for sponsorship, which are as follows:
- Verification of sponsorship deals worth more than £1 million: Club sponsorship deals worth more than £1 million must be submitted to the Premier League for verification to ensure they are not a “associated party” transaction. If the Premier League board suspects a transaction is from a “associated party” or is “not at arm’s length,” it will now conduct a “fair market value assessment” to determine whether its value has been clearly inflated. This applies to transactions worth more than £1 million, including payments from associated parties to club players, managers, and senior officials.
- Due diligence on gambling companies: The Premier League conducts due diligence investigations into the sponsor and the perception of each deal on social media before assigning a risk rating. The UK Gambling Commission establishes the requirements for holding a UK licence, and it is not for a club to decide whether a gambling company is suitable to sponsor them. Many English clubs, on the other hand, know very little about the companies whose logos they plaster on their shirts and stadium advertising hoardings.
- Sponsor risk rating: The Premier League conducts due diligence investigations into each sponsor and the perception of each deal on social media before assigning them a risk rating.
- Annual due diligence on incumbent directors: Additional due diligence on incumbent directors will be performed to ensure continued compliance with the Owners’ and Directors’ Test.
In conclusion, Chelsea is currently without a main shirt sponsor as a result of the expiration of Three’s sponsorship deal and failed attempts to secure new deals with Paramount+ and Stake. The club has now reached an agreement with Infinite Athlete, but the deal is still subject to Premier League approval. Chelsea will continue to play without a main shirt sponsor until then.
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