Everton earlier today announced that they would be suspending sponsorship deals with the trio of Russian companies USM, Megafon and Yota with immediate effect as worldwide outrage continues to grow over Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.
The three companies are all owned by oligarch Alisher Usmanov who is not only a close friend and business partner of Everton majority shareowner Farhad Moshiri, but has also been shown to have close connections with Russian leader Vladimir Putin who has been held culpable for the attack on another sovereign nation.
Yesterday internet rumours circulated that Lampard was present in Moshiri’s offices during one of his rounds of interviews while Usmanov was on a video call with the Everton majority shareowner, and that the oligarch virtually sat in on part of his interview as well.
During his press conference today ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup Fifth Round clash against Boreham Wood, manager Frank Lampard was asked whether that was true, and how the club’s decision to suspend those sponsorships which could have wide-reaching effects on the club’s financial position and new stadium funding affected him.
“Those reports were inaccurate. My interview was with the Board, Mr Moshiri, the chairman, Denise the CEO, and others but not Mr Usmanov.
“In terms of what it changes in the short term, I think we can see how the club reacted during the game on Saturday against Manchester City. The decisions we take - and those are not my decisions, those are the club’s decisions, from those above me - that we are doing the right thing as a club.
“In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve had no doubt we are reacting the right way. Did it affect my training session this morning? No. Did it affect our preparation for Boreham Wood? No, and that’s just where it’s at.”
The manager was also asked on his thoughts about Everton deciding to cut ties with Russian companies USM, MegaFon and Yota who are all sponsors of the club, and if that was something he would have taken into consideration before deciding to join the Toffees.
“I don’t think managers or coaches can be held accountable for that. If you start considering every possible angle, that’s quite difficult.
“I had absolute faith that they [the club] are making the right decisions as they see them. We were one of the forerunners in showing solidarity and unity. The suspension was the right thing to do, it’s important I focus on the football.”
It’ll be difficult for Lampard and the players to shut out the non-footballing decisions going on around the club as they focus on a key game tomorrow, but sounds like that is exactly what the coaching staff is trying to do even as the club continues to hover tenuously just above the Premier League relegation zone.