Fans watching Chelsea begin the 2023/24 Premier League season will have noticed that they sport kits with no main sponsor in front.
Ahead of their opening Premier League fixture against Liverpool on August 13, the club worked tirelessly to secure a main sponsorship deal but it came to no avail.
The situation was made even more difficult after a deal hashed out with a broadcast sponsor was rebuffed by league officials, but now they have secured an approved sponsorship deal that will see them replace their blank kits.
In the interim, Chelsea played several games at the start of the season in blank shirts. The Sporting News looks at the reasons behind it.
Why is Chelsea kit blank? Shirt sponsor search explained
Chelsea were left without a front-of-shirt sponsor for the 2023/24 preseason after their deal with broadcaster Paramount+ was blocked by the Premier League. According to reports in England at the time, the deal would have “upset current broadcast partners” who would be forced to air games with kits sporting logos of their competitors.
Paramount+ is the streaming service for U.S.-based broadcast company CBS, who has the rights to UEFA competitions in the United States as well as Serie A action. However, it’s likely that U.S. Premier League broadcast partner NBC, and probably many others as well, took serious issue with this as they would be upset with having to air a competitor’s advertisement on their own offerings.
The club has, however, finally picked up a main shirt sponsorship deal with Infinite Athlete. The deal wasn’t completed in time to produce shirts for their opening match against Liverpool, and the shirts remained blank for several games afterwards.
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— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 30, 2023
But the sponsor will appear on Chelsea’s shirts for the first time when their women’s team – the reigning Women’s Super League champions – begin their season on October 1.
Reports had claimed that the club was in initial talks with German company Allianz, but those fell through due to a poor offer from the proposed sponsor. They are also said to have spoken to Stake.com, a gambling company, but they withdrew from discussions amid a backlash from fans given such deals are set to become prohibited from 2026.
Who is Infinite Athlete?
Infinite Athlete is an American athletics company that contracts with teams and agents to supply player data and game video to customers.
The deal is reportedly worth £40 million ($50 million) per year, which is equal to their previous sponsorship deal with Three.
It is unclear how long the deal is for, but reports state that the deal does also include the women’s team coached by Emma Hayes, who won the Women’s Super League last campaign.
Who was Chelsea kit sponsor last year?
During the 2022/23 season, Chelsea’s main kit sponsor was Three, whose £40m-per-year deal expired in the summer of 2023.
Chelsea kits sported the “3” logo for, fittingly, three years, but the mobile company decided to end its partnership with the club at the expiration of the contract.
Premier League 2023/24 TV channels, live streams
|Hong Kong||—||Now TV|
|India||Star Sports||Disney+, Hotstar,
|Malaysia||Astro SuperSport||Astro Go|
|New Zealand||Sky Sport||Sky Sport Now,
|UK||Sky Sports, TNT Sports||NOW TV, Sky Go,
UK: Matches are carried across Sky Sports and TNT Sports streaming and TV platforms, with select matches on Amazon Prime.
USA: Select matches are televised on USA Network (English) and Telemundo or Universo (Spanish), and all three channels can be streamed on Fubo. The rest of the matches are streamed on NBC platform Peacock for subscribers.
Canada: Every Premier League game this season is live streamed exclusively via Fubo in Canada.
Australia: Fans in Australia can stream every match live and on demand on Optus Sport.
India: Star Sports network has the rights to show Premier League matches in India. As well as an English broadcast on Star Sports Select, select matches will be available via regional feeds on Star Sports 3 (in Bengali, English, Kannada, Malayalam), Star Sports 1 (Bangla) and Star Sports 1 (Tamil).