A sports brand expert told Sky Sports News that Chelsea could become a toxic brand for potential investors if the Russian conflict in Ukraine continues for a while.
Ben Peppi, head of sports services at JMW Solicitors, said current and future sponsors could be discouraged from investing in the club as long as Roman Abramovich is threatened by possible UK government sanctions.
Labor MP Chris Bryant used parliamentary prerogative to urge the government to confiscate some of Abramovich’s assets in the UK, and said a leaked Home Office document identified him as someone involved.
The spokesperson for the Russian billionaire denied that Abramovich is currently involved in Russian politics or President Vladimir Putin.
When asked if Chelsea could become a potentially toxic brand on its own by the association, Peppi replied: “Certainly. And we’ve already seen what happens to sports facilities that have a relationship with Russia.
“UEFA is holding the Champions League final in St. Petersburg, Gazprom is rumored to have been demoted as UEFA sponsor, Manchester United – arguably the world’s largest global football brand – has decided to end its relationship with Aeroflot.
“So there will undoubtedly be new partners, new sponsors, who look at Chelsea and say, ‘If the property is still in Mr Abramovich’s hands, we don’t want any part of it.
“It doesn’t send the morally, ethically, socially correct message.
“But the other side of the coin is Saudi ownership of Newcastle, ownership of Manchester City – people quickly forget.
“If it’s a long dispute and a long disagreement between East and West, I think it will definitely affect Chelsea.”
Q&A: Russia is about to be suspended – what next?
How long can we wait for a decision?
Kaveh Solhekol, chief correspondent for Sky Sports News:
“Later today [Monday] I think it will be announced that Russia is banned from international football. FIFA is currently in further talks to suspend the Russian national team until further notice.
“FIFA is working closely with UEFA on this issue. We had the situation when they met on Sunday when they stopped just before the FIFA Council Bureau banned Russia.
“They said that Russia cannot play a match on its own field, that it should not be called Russia and that it should be called the Russian Football Union, that there will be neither an anthem nor a flag.
“FIFA also said on Sunday that more measures may follow. These new measures will be implemented very quickly. »
Are other organizations pressing FIFA and UEFA to act now?
“The FIFA Bureau consists of President Gianni Infantino as well as six presidents of six football confederations. It was a global decision.
“The decision was taken not only by Infantino, but by the president of CONMEBOL, for example, and UEFA and the Asian Football Confederation. On Sunday, they decided to stop just before suspending Russia, and a lot of people thought they were going to suspend Russia.
“There was a lot of criticism about this decision, and there were instances where individual football federations said, ‘Whatever the Bureau decides, we will not play against Russia’.
“Whatever happens, we will not play against Russia while Russia is invading Ukraine and people are dying and fleeing the country in Ukraine.
“Even if we lose a place in the World Cup final. If this decision is taken today, it looks like Poland will participate in the next round of the play-offs.
“Right now they have to face Russia and the winner of this match will face the Czech Republic or Sweden for a place in the Qatar World Cup.
“This means they will go straight to the final playoff game.”
Did the decision surprise you in any way?
“It is perhaps surprising that this happened so quickly. But the information we received on Sunday was that this was not a final decision.
“We were told very clearly that Russia could be suspended depending on what happened in Ukraine. I didn’t expect this to happen in 24 hours, but it was very clear to us that this decision was not a done deal. It may vary depending on what is happening in Ukraine.
“There was a lot of criticism for not banning Russia right away, but it seems that people from FIFA, UEFA and all confederations are listening to the football world and the individual football federations that come out and saying that they will not play against them. Russia and they have decided to act quickly. »
Russia should compete in the European Women’s Championship. Will UEFA do the same?
“Yes, I’m waiting for them. I was told that this is a decision that all confederations will make.
“FIFA is talking and working very closely with UEFA and the important thing will be the UEFA Executive Committee meeting on Monday at 17:00.
“There will be other developments in this regard. I think it will become clear at this meeting that Russia is banned from international football. We may get an update on UEFA’s attempts to bail them out from the sponsorship deal with the state-owned Russian energy company Gazprom.
“It’s complicated and something UEFA’s lawyers are trying to find a way out of this sponsorship deal because Gazprom is one of its biggest sponsors, with a valuation of around £30m a year.”
What if Russia later pulls out of Ukraine? Will the national team return to the World Cup play-offs immediately? Is that why FIFA and UEFA have withdrawn for the time being?
“That could still change and we can’t sit here and say 100% that Russia won’t play against Poland. It all depends on what’s going on in Ukraine.
“It must be said that there are much more important things in the world right now. What happens in Ukraine is much more important than the World Cup playoffs, and that’s what strikes me when I talk to people about the Polish team. FA.
“Football doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. They say they don’t care about the World Cup finals. Football is totally unimportant. What matters is what Russia does in Ukraine.
“They say they will do everything they can to stop this. Don’t even ask us about the World Cup finals and playoffs. In the end they will not play against Russia. »