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Report: Fanatics lands NBA trading card contract

Basketball league's current deal with Panini expires in 2026.

24 August 2021 Ed Dixon
  • NBA and its players’ association to receive equity in Fanatics’ new trading card company
  • Panini has held its exclusive licence since 2009
  • Fanatics also set to take over from Topps as MLB’s trading card licensee

Sports merchandise giant Fanatics has secured a deal with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and its players’ association, the NBPA, for the exclusive licences to produce basketball trading cards, according to The Athletic.

Sportico reported last week that Fanatics had been in talks with the two organisations to replace Panini, which has held the exclusive licence for the NBA since 2009. Its current deal runs until 2026. 

Now, The Athletic reports that Fanatics has reached an agreement which will see the NBA and NBPA have equity in Fanatics’ new trading card company.

The contract could be just the start for Fanatics in the space. According to multiple reports last week, the company struck an agreement with Major League Baseball (MLB) and its MLBPA players’ union to replace Topps as their trading cards licensee in 2025 and 2023, respectively.

Having partnered with MLB since 1952, it looks set to be a significant blow to Topps, which last week saw its merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Mudrick Capital Acquisition Corporation II terminated. The deal, which had been announced in April, valued Topps at US$1.3 billion.

Mudrick said the decision was made ‘by mutual agreement’, with Topps to now remain as a private company. The business retains licensing deals with the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS).

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