Premier league club Everton has suspended sponsorship deals with three Russian businesses linked to sanctioned billionaire oligarch Alisher Usmanov. Tony McDonough reports
Everton Football Club is suspending sponsorship deals with three Russian businesses linked to billionaire oligarch Alisher Usmanov.
On Wednesday the club said deals with USM, Megafon and Yota would be suspended “with immediate effect”. In a statement Everton said it was “shocked and saddened” by the conflict raging in Ukraine.
Uzbek-born Alisher Usmanov, a long-time business associate of Everton’s billionaire majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, has seen his assets frozen by the EU as part of Western sanctions against Russia. Mr Usmanov has described the move as unjust.
Telecoms company Megafon, its subsidiary Yota, and holding entity USM, all have sponsorship deals with the Merseyside club. USM sponsors Everton’s training ground and has an option on naming rights on the new £500m stadium being built at Bramley-Moore Dock. That deal is worth £30m to the club.
In October 2020, Everton Women secured a new commercial deal with MegaFon. The multi-year principal partnership agreement was the biggest commercial deal in the women’s team’s history.
As part of the agreement, MegaFon secured branding on the front of Everton Women’s shirt, while mobile virtual network operator Yota was added to the left shirt sleeve on the matchday kits.
In a statement, Everton said: “Everyone at Everton remains shocked and saddened by the appalling events unfolding in Ukraine. This tragic situation must end as soon as possible, and any further loss of life must be avoided.
“The players, coaching staff and everyone working at Everton is providing full support to our player Vitalii Mykolenko and his family and will continue to do so. The club can confirm that it has suspended with immediate effect all commercial sponsorship arrangements with the Russian companies USM, Megafon and Yota.”
The EU listed Mr Usmanov as a “pro-Kremlin oligarch” with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has been referred to as one of Vladimir Putin’s favourite oligarchs.