Chelsea are on the verge of losing up to £125 million in future income over the next five years after it emerged that Turkish Airlines are ready to pull the plug on their proposed shirt sponsorship deal with the Premier League giants.
According to the Daily Mail, the £25 million-a-year agreement was close to being signed off before Christmas, but now the national flag carrier airline of Turkey are cautious of paying over the odds.
The Blues' current deal with Samsung is set to expire at the end of 2014/15 and Roman Abramovich had been hoping a new partnership would be in place from the start of next season.
However, it appears that Turkish Airlines are now reluctant to pay that sky-high price - which represents a £7 million increase on the £18 million-a-year contract Chelsea have with the mobile phone provider.
That deal would've propelled the west London club above Liverpool and Arsenal in the Premier League shirt sponsorship table, but still way behind Manchester United, whose £53 million deal with American automobile company Chevrolet is way ahead of anyone else in England's top-flight.
Turkish Airlines have not pulled out completely, but more negotiations will be needed if they are to revive plans to sponsor the Premier League leaders from 2015/16 onwards. It will also open the door to other companies to hijack the long-term partnership, with Abramovich likely to give thumb-up to the highest bidder, as he looks to establish the club as the number one commercially in the country.
Former Liverpool CEO Christian Purslow will be the man responsible for finalising the deal after replacing former chief executive Ron Gourlay following his departure from Stamford Bridge back in October as part of a surprise commercial revamp at the end of last year.
The fact that Turkish Airlines also have a major individual sponsorship deal with Chelsea striker Didier Drogba could prove decisive in allowing them a way back to revive their relationship with the club as talks at the top table continue.
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