Frank Lampard has said Everton’s decision to suspend the sponsorship deals with three Russian companies run by the billionaire Alisher Usmanov is proof they are taking the right decisions.
Everton have put their commercial arrangements with USM, who sponsored their Finch Farm training ground and who have a naming-rights option for their new stadium, Megafon and Yota on hold after Usmanov, a business partner of owner Farhad Moshiri, had his assets frozen by the European Union.
Lampard, who denied that Usmanov, who used to own 30 per cent of Arsenal, was one of those to interview him for the Everton job, said his brief time on Merseyside and the show of support for Ukraine before Saturday’s game against Manchester City, underlined his belief in their board.
“Working closely with the people running the club, I have absolute faith they will make the right decisions,” he said. “The way we reacted against Manchester City and the steps we made, I think we were one of the forerunners of showing solidarity and unity. Suspension for me is the right thing to do. I think today again is a show of us as a club doing the right thing.”
The club said in a statement: “Everyone at Everton remains shocked and saddened by the appalling events unfolding in Ukraine. This tragic situation must end as soon as possible, and any further loss of life must be avoided. The players, coaching staff and everyone working at Everton is providing full support to our player Vitalii Mykolenko and his family.”
Everton’s players took the field on Saturday with Ukrainian flags draped around them and Lampard confirmed Mykolenko will begin Thursday's FA Cup game against non-league Boreham Wood. City made Oleksandr Zinchenko captain against Peterborough on Tuesday and Everton will consider if they make some gesture of backing for their Ukraine left-back.
“He will play,” Lampard added. “That was a decision I'd made regardless of the outside situation, purely a football decision. You have to be aware of the life decision for him in the moment. He's starting the game. The conversations I've had, I'd rather keep private because they are delicate.
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“We are giving him all the support and I am sure he is feeling that. He's a new player here. So many things have happened to him, let alone coming to a new club and a new city and a new club.
Lampard also played for and managed Chelsea during Roman Abramovich’s time owning the club and the billionaire is now looking to sell as western countries take sanctions against Russian oligarchs because of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. “If you take as you find, I had absolute support in my time as a player and manager. I've got no comment on them now as Everton manager,” he said.
He had lunch with Everton’s new director of football Kevin Thelwell on Wednesday and has received an apology from Mike Riley, the referees’ chief, for VAR Christopher Kavanagh’s decision not to award Everton a penalty on Saturday when Rodri handled.
Now Everton face just the 10th non-league club since the Second World War to reach the last 16 of the FA Cup. After Boreham Wood, beat Bournemouth, Lampard sent a text to their manager, Luke Garrard.
“I watched the game against Bournemouth and thought it was a special evening,” he said. “The feeling of the fans and the players and the owner, I thought it was right to congratulate him and offer him an early warm welcome to Goodison. It is very important we treat them with the utmost respect. For any club in the league they are in to reach this far is an absolute achievement.”