English Premier League football club Everton has today (Wednesday) announced it has suspended all sponsorship arrangements with its Russian commercial partners, including USM, which holds an exclusive option on the naming rights to its new stadium.
USM is a diversified Russian holding company with significant interests across the metals and mining, telecoms, technology and internet sectors, with its founder being Alisher Usmanov, the Uzbek-born Russian oligarch.
Usmanov has seen his assets frozen as part of sanctions imposed by the European Union following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Everton said today: “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.”
In January 2020, Everton announced that Usmanov had agreed to pay £30m (€36m/$40m) for an exclusive option on the naming rights to its new stadium. USM paid £30m up front for the exclusive option on the contract.
USM already has naming rights to Everton’s Finch Farm training ground through an initial five-year deal agreed in January 2017. Usmanov, a former shareholder in Premier League team Arsenal, is a close friend of Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri.
Usmanov yesterday stepped down as president of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) following the sanctions imposed on him by the EU for his alleged ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Usmanov stated the decision was “unfair”, describing the reasons to justify his sanctions as “a set of false and defamatory allegations damaging my honour, dignity and business reputation”.
Everton last month commissioned venue specialist Forward Associates to create new fan experiences at its new stadium, which is currently being built at Bramley-Moore Dock. Forward Associates will work with Everton to design match-day hospitality packages and experiences at the new stadium, which the club broke ground on in August last year.
Everton’s new stadium will have a capacity of 52,888 and is being built at a cost £500m. Building work on the stadium is expected to take around three years.