English Premier League club Everton has suspended all sponsorship and endorsement activity with Russian companies USM Holdings, MegaFon and Yota.
The news comes in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A club statement 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.
“Everton can confirm that it has suspended with immediate effect all commercial sponsorship arrangements with the Russian companies USM, MegaFon and Yota.”
The USM deal included naming rights to the club’s training ground. The association began with a five-year deal signed in 2017 and was expanded in 2019 to make USM the club’s Official Matchday Presenting Partner.
USM Holdings is the holding company for the business interests of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, the former Arsenal shareholder who was also president of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) until stepping down this week following sanctions imposed on him by the European Union after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Telco MegaFon is a USM-owned company and became Principal Partner of Everton’s women’s team in October 2020. Yota, meanwhile, is part of the MegaFon group and was added to the sleeve of the women’s team kit at the same time.
In January 2020, Usmanov revealed his interest in investing further in Everton and acquired the naming rights option for the club’s proposed new stadium for £30m.
In a statement, Usmanov confirmed that he had become the target of “restrictive measures” imposed by the EU. The sanctions were imposed over Usmanov’s alleged ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Usmanov said that he believes the decision to be “unfair” and labelled the reasons to justify his sanctions as “a set of false and defamatory allegations damaging my honour, dignity and business reputation”.
Although Usmanov said he would use “all legal means” to protect his honour and reputation, he has opted to suspend his duties as FIE president effective immediately. Usmanov said the suspension of duties would be in place “until justice is restored”.
The move from Everton comes after fellow Premier League outfit Manchester United last week withdrew the sponsorship rights of Russian airline Aeroflot.