Manchester United have cancelled their massive £40million sponsorship deal with Russian airline Aeroflot.
The move is in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and comes after United flew to Madrid on Tuesday with Titan Airways.
A United Spokesperson said: ‘In light of events in Ukraine, we have withdrawn Aeroflot’s sponsorship rights.
‘We share the concerns of our fans around the world and extend our sympathies to those affected.’
The team had a longstanging commercial agreement having first linked up with the Russian company in 2013 but have now severed ties.
United’s deal with Aeroflot was renewed in 2017 to the tune of £40m and was due to expire in 2023. Aeroflot is the national airline of and flies to 146 destinations across 52 countries.
In addition to flying the United stars all over the world, Aeroflot also provided the club with travel and logistical advice but United are now in the market for a new flight partner, with Qatar Airways under consideration.
United banked in the region of £100m in total from their nine-year association with Aeroflot.
United stars Edinson Cavani (left) and Nemanja Matic (right) pictured on an Aeroflot flight
Manchester United previously swapped their flight with Russian state airline Aeroflot and have now cancelled their sponsorship deal in light of the invasion of Ukraine
In their nine year association with Aeroflot, United banked £100million from the deal
Interestingly, United’s share price dropped following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it was speculated that it could have been down to their association with Aeroflot.
As of Thurday, in two weeks the share price had fallen from $14.08 a share to $13.10, a dip of seven per cent.
United will hope that the end of their partnership with Aeroflot will at least arrest the share price decline. Other clubs, such as German side Schalke, are also ending their association with Russian companies and they are no longer sponsored by Gazprom.
Their decision is the latest as a direct result of the Russian invasion and earlier it was decided that this year’s Champions League final will no longer be held in Russia.
It has been moved to Paris after UEFA confirmed St Petersburg will no longer play host.
Fred (left) and Alex Telles (right) pictured on a previous flight with the Russian airline
Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday with troops attacking the country from the north, east and south, inflicting enormous damage to military installations and civilian casualties.
Four Premier League clubs remain in the competition at the last-16 stage with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City taking leads into next month’s second leg ties and Manchester United level with Atletico Madrid.
Paris’ Stade de France, which last held the Champions League final 16 years ago when Barcelona beat Arsenal, will now hold the showpiece event.
The 2022 Champions League final will now be held at the Stade de France in Paris after UEFA stripped Russia of the showpiece following invasion of Ukraine
The 65,000-capacity Gazprom Arena was due to host this season’s showpiece event
Natali Sevriukova, a resident of Kyiv, is pictured weeping on the streets of Kyiv after a Russian rocket strike destroyed the apartment block where she lives overnight
‘The UEFA Executive Committee today held an extraordinary meeting following the grave escalation of the security situation in Europe,’ a UEFA statement on Friday read.
‘The UEFA Executive Committee decided to relocate the final of the 2021-22 UEFA men’s Champions League from Saint Petersburg to Stade de France in Saint-Denis. The game will be played as initially scheduled on Saturday 28 May at 9pm CET (8pm BST).
UKRAINE WAR: LATEST
- Russia said it is not willing to negotiate with Ukraine’s government until military operation is over
- Came after Zelensky called for talks to end fighting
- Ukraine says Russia has bombed 33 civilian sites in Kyiv in the last 24 hours
- Two children have been reported killed in Kyiv bombing overnight
- Ukraine has banned men aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country to conscript them into armed forces
- Russia is deploying paratroopers to Chernobyl after capturing it yesterday, Moscow said
- Ukraine reported ‘anomalous’ radiation levels at the plant amid fears nuclear storage was breached in fighting, but Moscow said readings are normal
- Russia claims to have destroyed 118 Ukrainian military sites in 30 hours of fighting
- PM Boris Johnson pledged more support is coming to Ukraine in the coming days
- Johnson shared a phone call with Zelensky on Friday morning
‘UEFA wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to French Republic President Emmanuel Macron for his personal support and commitment to have European club football’s most prestigious game moved to France at a time of unparalleled crisis.’
The Kremlin reacted to the decision soon afterwards, claiming that St Petersburg would have offered ‘the best possible conditions’ for the showpiece event.
‘It is a shame that such a decision was made,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
‘Saint Petersburg could have provided the best possible conditions for holding this football event.’
The UK government immediately endorsed the decision to strip Russia of the final. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: ‘I welcome UEFA’s decisive action to strip St Petersburg of staging this year’s Champions League Final.
‘Russia must not be allowed to exploit sporting and cultural events on the world stage to legitimise its unprovoked, premeditated and needless attack against a sovereign democratic state.’
Russian and Ukrainian club and national teams will play home games at neutral venues, UEFA also announced.
The news came as Ukrainian forces took to the streets of Kyiv today with national guard troops pictured lining up defensive positions along a highway shortly before the sounds of gunfire and explosions rang out as they battled Russian forces for control of the capital.
Putin’s men are now thought to be inside the city, though their exact location and number is unclear. Fighting was reported in Obolon, on the city’s outskirts, in the early hours as the ministry of defence told residents to make Molotov cocktails to ‘repel the occupiers’. Russian forces were also spotted in Vorzel, Bucha, Irpen districts.
Firemen pick their way through the rubble of a destroyed apartment in Kyiv, as President Zelensky said the Russian military is now targeting civilian areas
Ukrainian soldiers are pictured forming up across a highway in Kyiv as they prepare to defend the city from Russian attackers, with gunfire and explosions heard in the centre of the capital
The Russian troops are thought to have arrived from the north-east, having pushed down from Chernobyl which was captured late yesterday. More Russian troops and armour are advancing on the capital from Konotop, in the east, having bypassed the city of Chernihiv where they ran into heavy Ukrainian resistance.
Once Kyiv is surrounded, US intelligence believes the plan will be for Russian special forces to move in and seize an airport – likely Sikorsky or Boryspil – which would then be used to fly in a much larger force of up to 10,000 paratroopers who would assault the capital.
The job of the paratroopers would be to enter the city, find Zelensky, his ministers, and parliamentarians, before forcing them to sign a peace deal handing control of the country back to Russia or a Moscow-backed puppet regime – effectively ending the war without Putin’s ground forces needing to complete the difficult and bloody task of seizing and occupying the whole country.