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Yokohama quits lead role at Chelsea, replaced by telco Three

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Premier League Chelsea’s shirt sponsor, Yokohama Tyres, will step down from the lead sponsorship role next season – with the telecommunications brand Three announced as the new shirt partner.

Although it is unclear how the new deal was sourced, CSM Sport & Entertainment is retained by the club to secure new sponsors. The CSM team is led by Chris Beadle, the agency’s head of football and partnership development director.

Yokohama’s decision to quit ends a five-year stint as the club’s main shirt sponsor. The Japanese brand signed the deal in February 2015. It is worth a maximum of £40m (€47.5m/$52.4m) per year from 2015-16 to 2019-20.

Yokohama will retain links with the club as the club’s Official Global Tyre Partner.

In a statement, the club said Yokohama had experienced “significant growth in global brand and product awareness” during its time at Chelsea.

The statement added: “Now, as a world-famous brand, Yokohama will use the continuing partnership with Chelsea to focus on new objectives, engaging consumers and increasing sales in strategic markets.”

On the pitch, Chelsea enjoyed some success during the brand’s tenure which helped promote the Japanese company in a sponsorship driven by brand visibility.

The men’s team won the Premier League in 2016, the FA Cup in 2018 and last season won the Europa League. Chelsea Women also won a league and cup double during this period.

Read this: Chelsea ‘in talks’ with new suitors as Yokohama deal enters final year

The replacement deal with telco Three is for an initial three years from 2020-21 to 2022-23. The deal will give Three branding on all team shirts in the Chelsea family and will ensure Stamford Bridge is 5G-enabled within the first year of the partnership.

Dave Dyson, chief executive of  Three UK said that the deal was a great match for the brand with Three “building the UK’s fastest 5G network and Chelsea building the best team.”

Dyson added: “Chelsea FC is many teams in one club – and it is important to us that this sponsorship covers not only the men’s team, but also the women’s and the Academy as well.

“Three UK has enough 5G spectrum to put us in the top 10 holdings in the world and give our customers the very best 5G service, and we want to be with the team that can drive that winning message over the next few years.”

With Chelsea finding a replacement for Yokohama, there are now just two major Premier League shirt deals on the market.

These are at Manchester United, where the £53m-per-year deal with carmaker Chevrolet ends in 2020-21, and at Manchester City, where, as SportBusiness revealed yesterday, Etihad is seeking an exit from its £40m-per-year deal also after the 2020-21 season. The CAA Sports agency is leading the search for a replacement at City.

Despite United’s loss in form, experts believe the next deal will set a new price benchmark for Premier League shirt deals.