Major League Baseball (MLB) and its players’ union, the MLBPA, will end their 70-year partnership with sports trading card corporate Topps in order to team up with a new company controlled by sports merchandise giant Fanatics, according to numerous reports.
Topps has been manufacturing MLB trading cards since 1951 and was given an exclusive license by the league in 2009.
MLB renewed its deal with Topps in 2018, but reports propose North America’s well-known baseball league will partner with Fanatics after the current contract ends in 2025. The MLBPA’s deal with Fanatics will reportedly start in 2023.
Tony Clark, executive director of MLBPA, told MLB players in a memo read by Sportico that Fanatics was a deal that would generate almost US$2 billion over the next 20 years, one of several new partnerships.
Sportico reports that Fanatics will equip MLB and MLBPA as part of the agreement in its new trading card company.
Sportico also reports that Fanatics has been involved in discussions with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and its players’ association, the NBPA, as well as the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) over their trading card licenses. Panini currently holds private deals with each of those organizations.
Earlier this month, Fanatics elevated a further US$325 million and is now unspecified to be valued at US$18 billion. The company has more than tripled its value over the last year and allegedly expects to generate US$3.4 billion in revenue by the end of 2021.
Having recognized itself as a leading sports merchandise company, Fanatics is now looking to endeavour into a number of new markets, such as sports betting, media and sports collectibles. Michael Rubin, the company’s executive chairman, also launched Candy Digital, a non-fungible token (NFT) brand, in June.
It would be a major blow to Topps ahead of a proposed union with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Mudrick Capital Acquisition Corporation II, if the deals with MLB and the MLBPA are established. That deal proclaimed in April, valued Topps at US$1.3 billion.
Topps also grasps trading card licensing deals with Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Hockey League (NHL).
Fanatics has become the official eCommerce and physical trade partner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) New York Liberty.
The exclusive, multi-year omnichannel retail firm with BSE Global, which functions the Nets and the Liberty, will see Fanatics power all online and in-person shopping experiences at Barclays Center for both teams.
During the 2020/21 NBA season, the Nets bagged three of the four top-selling jerseys with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden. Meanwhile, Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu is currently the top-selling WNBA player jersey.