Ukraine invasion: Everton suspend commercial sponsorship arrangements with Russian companies

Alisher Usmanov is a long-time business partner of Everton owner Farhad Moshiri

Everton have suspended their commercial sponsorship arrangements with Russian companies part-owned by Alisher Usmanov following the invasion of Ukraine.

USM Holdings, in which Usmanov has a 49% stake, sponsors the training ground.

Usmanov also has an exclusive naming-rights option on Everton’s new stadium which is due to open for the start of the 2024-25 Premier League season.

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri is the chairman of USM Holdings.

Digital and telecommunications company Megafon is owned by USM and sponsors Everton women’s shirts.external-link The multi-year deal was agreed in October 2020, while Yota, part of the Megafon group, is on the sleeve of the shirt.

“Everyone at Everton remains shocked and saddened by the appalling events unfolding in Ukraine,” a club statement said.

“This tragic situation must end as soon as possible, and any further loss of life must be avoided.

“The club can confirm that it has suspended with immediate effect all commercial sponsorship arrangements with the Russian companies USM, Megafon and Yota.”

Everton added that it was doing all it can to provide “full support” to Ukrainian defender Vitalii Mykolenko, who joined the Toffees in January.

Mykolenko embraced Manchester City’s Ukrainian full-back Oleksandr Zinchenko on the pitch at Goodison Park before Saturday’s Premier League match between the teams.

Everton boss Frank Lampard agreed with the club’s decision to suspend commercial ties with the Russian companies, though he denied reports he spoke to Usmanov as part of his interview process for the Toffees job.

“The way we behaved last Saturday against Manchester City, I thought we were one of the forerunners of of behaving well, and showing solidarity and unity and in the right way and I think today again is a show of us as a club doing the right thing,” he said.

Lampard added that Mykolenko would start Thursday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie against Boreham Wood.

“He will play tomorrow. That was a decision I’d made regardless of the outside situation,” said Lampard.

“Football can be a relief for him but the conversations I’ve had I’d rather keep private because they are delicate. He is also a new player here. So many things have happened to him, moving to a different club, city and country and now he has to deal with this.

“So he has all our support on that front.”

Oleksandr Zinchenko and Vitalii Mykolenko
Ukrainians Oleksandr Zinchenko and Vitalii Mykolenko embraced on the pitch during the warm-up before Saturday’s game between Everton and Manchester City

The EU Council said it was freezing Usmanov’s assets because he is “a pro-Kremlin oligarch with particularly close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin”.

On Tuesday, Usmanov made a statement on the website of the International Fencing Federation, an organisation of which he is president, calling the EU’s decision to impose restrictions on him “unfair” and pledged to “use all legal means to protect my honour and reputation”.

On Monday, Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich announced he was selling the club.

Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss claims Abramovich “wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly” after the threat of sanctions was raised in parliament and has been offered the chance to buy the club.

The United Kingdom government is yet to sanction Abramovich or Usmanov.

Manchester United terminated their sponsorship deal with Russia’s national airline Aeroflot last week following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Premier League players to wear armbands

Meanwhile, the Premier League says it “wholeheartedly rejects Russia’s actions” and has pledged to show solidarity with Ukraine with a number of initiatives at matches this weekend.

The 20 club captains will wear armbands in Ukrainian colours and fans are “encouraged to join players, managers, match officials and club staff in a moment of reflection and solidarity before kick-off at each game”.

In a statement, the league also said that big screens will display ‘Football Stands Together’ along with the colours of the Ukrainian flag, and the same message will shown on perimeter boards during matches.

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