Chelsea have paid £24.5m to ditch Umbro as their kit provider as they seek a more lucrative deal with one of the sportswear group’s rivals.

The move to extricate themselves from their current contract, which had been due to run until 2011, was announced in a statement to the Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Chelsea will continue to wear Umbro kit until the end of the 2005/06 campaign, the club’s centenary season, after which it will sport a strip provided by a new supplier.

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon said: “The centenary season should be a great celebration for everybody connected with Chelsea and we look forward to Umbro sharing in that.

“They have made a major contribution to the Chelsea of today. However, we believe this decision will help us achieve our strategic long term goals in the future.”