Another piece of Fanatics’ attempt to take over the sports card industry has fallen into place, with the NFL Players Association reportedly agreeing to a 20-year deal for Fanatics to produce NFL trading cards.
The Fanatics contract with the NFLPA will begin in 2026, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
According to multiple media reports, Fanatics has been granted licenses with MLB and the MLB Players Association to produce baseball trading cards. It will replace the iconic Topps brand beginning in 2025 and 2023.
While Fanatics has reportedly already reached deals with MLB and the NBA and its respective players associations, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company has not yet reached an agreement with the NFL that would allow it to use NFL team logos. If no deal is reached, Fanatics would produce NFL cards with player images but not team logos.
Fanatics will replace Panini as the official trading card company for the NFL and also take over the NBA contract with the NBA and NBA Players Association. Panini has had the NFL contract since 2009, when it purchased Donruss.
According to multiple media reports, all three sports leagues and their respective players unions will own a stake in the new Fanatics trading card company.
Financial terms of the NFLPA's deal with Fanatics have not been reported, but Panini paid the NFLPA $24.2 million in 2020, according to an NFLPA filing. Topps reportedly paid the MLBPA $20.4 million in 2020.
Fanatics, an $18 billion company that distributes sports apparel and memorabilia, is owned by Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils co-owner Michael Rubin, who is expected to run the trading card company.
According to MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, the Fanatics deal with the MLBPA is more than 10 times larger than any previous trading card contract with the players, or more than $200 million.
Topps has been the industry’s premier trading card company for 70 yards and has become synonymous with baseball cards. It was on the verge of a merger with Mudrick Capital that would have taken the company public.
Topps executive Andy Redman said in a statement Monday that Topps was blindsided by the Fanatics deal and not given an opportunity to bid on a new contract with MLB or the MLBPA.
Now the futures of both Topps and Panini, which currently owns the rights to both NFL and NBA trading cards, are in doubt.
While many collectors and industry insiders are concerned and disappointed over the Fanatics deals, Collectors Universe Chairman Nat Turner tweeted Wednesday that he is excited to see Fanatic venture into the NBA.
Neither Fanatics nor the three sports leagues and their players associations have commented publicly on the reported deals.