CHELSEA announced the most dramatic change in corporate image since the arrival of Roman Abramovich as the club’s owner in July 2003 by ending a decade-long association with Umbro, their kit supplier.
The club said that they had decided "by mutual agreement" to terminate the contract five years early and would pay the retailer £24.5 million in compensation. The agreement will now end in June 2006 at the conclusion of Chelsea’s centenary season.
Peter Kenyon, the Chelsea chief executive, will open talks with a new kit supplier and replica kit distributor. Adidas is the favourite to land the deal because Nike is tied into a long-term relationship with Manchester United, while Reebok (Adidas)supplies Liverpool.
Chelsea are also looking for a new shirt sponsor to replace Emirates, the airline company whose £6 million-a-year agreement winds up at the end of this season, when it will move its sponsorship to Arsenal’s new ground at Ashburton Grove.