12 May 2022

By: Sport Industry Group

Chelsea FC has agreed a £20m-a-year sponsorship deal with fast-growing cryptocurrency group WhaleFin, according to various reports. 

Reports suggest that the Stamford Bridge club has agreed a shirt-sleeve contract with WhaleFin, a digital asset platform owned by Singapore-based Amber Group, despite the temporary ban on the club striking new partnerships while it operates under government supervision, following former owner Roman Ambrovich’s sanctions. 

The deal, which looks set to launch next season, could be confirmed publicly as early as Thursday morning. WhaleFin would replace Hyundai as Chelsea's shirt-sleeve sponsor, with the Korean car-maker understood to be discussing an alternative commercial deal with the club.

Football, and specifically Premier League, has begun entering the crypto space in the past year. A number of high profile players have signed endorsement deals and clubs, including Arsenal, have secured crypto partnerships. Manchester United has also struck a deal with blockchain group Tezos and Liverpool FC has recently been linked with a deal from the sector to replace Standard Chartered, the emerging markets-focused bank, as its main shirt sponsor. This move would be Chelsea’s first into the crypto currency market.

The deal between the Blues and WhaleFin brings Chelsea’s stringent commercial restrictions into question. However, sources close to the transaction said that the agreement was signed in January - well before it became subject to conditions which included bans on ticket and memorabilia sales.

WhaleFin has recently agreed deals outside of the UK, with its logo set to appear on the  shirts of Atletico Madrid in Spain's La Liga next season. The deal is reportedly worth more than £34m a year.

The growing Amber Group was also recently reported to be in talks to raise new funds at a valuation of $10bn or more. Its backers include venture capitalists Temasek Holdings, Sequoia China and Tiger Global Management.