Oscar of Chelsea celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers on November 1, 2014 in London, England.
Mark Leech Getty Images
By John Kell
May 11, 2016

Adidas, Europe’s largest athletic gear maker, has announced that it agreed to mutually end a sponsorship and sportswear supplier relationship with Chelsea Football Club six years before the pact was due to expire.

German-based Adidas said in a statement that the agreement would now end on June 30, 2017 rather than in June 2023. It said the mutual agreement was made to allow Chelsea Football Club “to enter a new equipment agreement with a competitor.” The rival wasn’t named, though generally, Nike (nke) and German-based Puma are the most active in signing sponsorship deals with Premier League teams.

The original Adidas-Chelsea FC 10-year deal was worth a purported £290 million ($420 million) when it was announced in 2013. Since then, Adidas signed an even more massive 10-year deal with Manchester United (manu). Adidas also sponsors Real Madrid and AC Milan, as well as individual athletes including Leo Messi, Paul Pogba and Gareth Bale.

 

Sponsorships with key teams and players play an important role in getting people interested in athletic brands, with gear worn for casual wear but also promoting the prowess of the brand within the world of sport. But those sponsorship pacts have gotten pricy in recent years, driven up by some competitive bidding.

In the U.S., Adidas says it has gotten more aggressive for sponsorships, recently signing deals with NHL Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby and NFL Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It also recently shuffled the NHL partnership from the Reebok brand to sibling Adidas. Reebok and Adidas previously made apparel for the NBA and NFL but lost those contracts to Nike.

Adidas says that ultimately, it wants to focus on fewer deals but put a greater focus behind those initiatives.

In a separate statement, Adidas said it will book a significant payment made by Chelsea FC that would positively impact second quarter earnings on a one-time basis. To account for that gain, Adidas is now projecting net income from continuing operations to increase by around 25%, up from the prior target of between 15% to 18%.

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