Chelsea have announced the second largest shirt sponsorship deal in English football history with Yokohama Rubber that ensures manager Jose Mourinho can make major raids in the summer transfer market.
As first revealed on the Telegraph website, the Yokohama agreement is worth almost pounds 40?million a year and runs for an initial term of five years, which pushes Chelsea ahead of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City in the shirt sponsorship table. Only Manchester United have a more lucrative deal, having netted pounds 53?million a year from Chevrolet.
The Blues' new shirt sponsorship with Yokohama that officially starts from next season is more than double the previous pounds 18?million agreement with Samsung that was last extended in 2012 and is seen within Stamford Bridge as a significant success for Christian Purslow, who was appointed to run Chelsea's global activities in October last year.
Chelsea believe the sponsorship deal underlines their position as a global brand leader and will ensure that Mourinho can keep up with United, City and Arsenal in the transfer market while meeting Financial Fair Play rules.
Mourinho has pretty much had to sell to buy since returning to Chelsea and has been limited to a smaller squad of senior players to pick from than his rivals.
But Mourinho should have more freedom in the summer, when he is expected to try to sign pounds 30?million-rated central defender Raphael Varane from Real Madrid and will also attempt to add another midfielder and forward to his squad.
Having sold the likes of Juan Mata, David Luiz, Romelu Lukaku and Andre Schurrle over the past 12 months, Mourinho does not have many players left he would be willing to sell who would command big fees, which makes the Yokohama sponsorship even more important to his plans.
A Chelsea statement read: "Chelsea Football Club is delighted to unveil the Yokohama Rubber Company Ltd as our new official shirt partner in our largest-ever commercial deal. This places Chelsea right at the top of European football, with one of the biggest shirt sponsorships ever signed. Today's agreement launches the club into a new era of innovative commercial partnerships. This will underpin Chelsea's strategy to be one of Europe's leading football clubs with a self-financing model which is fully compliant with the Uefa Financial Fair Play rules."
Yokohama worldwide has a business network spanning over 100 countries, including the United States, Japan, China and Australia, and the company already has sponsorship deals with NBA teams the Boston Celtics and the San Antonio Spurs.
Yokohama will have its logo across all Chelsea shirts from the start of next season.