Manchester United has severed ties with Russian state airline Aeroflot in the aftermath of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
The UK government barred Aeroflot from flying in its airspace on Thursday, and the Civil Aviation Authority suspended its foreign carrier permit.
Since 2013, Aeroflot has been a commercial partner of Manchester United.
“In light of events in Ukraine, we have withdrawn Aeroflot’s sponsorship rights,” the Premier League club said in a statement.
“We share the concerns of our fans all over the world and extend our heartfelt condolences to those affected.”
Aeroflot, with whom United has a long-standing commercial partnership, flew United to European matches on a regular basis. However, for Wednesday’s Champions League match against Atletico Madrid, United changed their travel plans, instead of flying to Spain with a charter airline, UK-based Titan Airways.
In 2013, Aeroflot was named United’s “official carrier.” The airline, according to the club’s website, provided “strategic advice” on the team’s travel arrangements and provided charter services “whenever suitable.”
On Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that Aeroflot will be barred from landing planes in the UK as part of the “largest and most severe” package of sanctions imposed by the UK on Russia to punish the “blood-stained aggressor” Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine.
Johnson expanded the sanctions to include five more oligarchs, including the Russian president’s former son-in-law, as well as more than 100 businesses and individuals.
There will also be an asset freeze on all major Russian banks, including VTB, which will be implemented immediately.
What exactly was Manchester United agreement with Aeroflot?
Aeroflot is listed as the club’s ‘official carrier’ and a ‘global partner’ on the club’s website.
The website states: “As the Official Carrier of Manchester United, Aeroflot will provide strategic advice to the club on travel arrangements for the team and officials. It will also provide charter services whenever suitable on its newest long-haul Airbus and Boeing airplanes featuring a state-of-the-art business class experience.”
The site adds: “The partnership is based on shared values including teamwork, a focus on quality, pride in our heritage, and an innovative and forward-looking attitude.”
Aeroflot signed a contract with United in 2013, which was then extended in 2015 until 2023.
Current CEO Richard Arnold was present at the original deal’s announcement in 2013, along with airline CEO Vitaly Saveliev and then-manager David Moyes.
How much United receive from Aeroflot?
BBC Sport has a report. In addition to the services provided by the airline, United receives £29.9 million from Aeroflot.
International sanctions are imposed
Aeroflot has been barred from operating in the United Kingdom as part of the sanctions imposed on Russia as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.
United did not fly with Aeroflot to and from Madrid for this week’s Champions League game.