NFLPA dumps Panini in favor of Fanatics 3 years ahead of scheduled split in trading card deal

In the rapidly evolving sports world, every other day new business deals are signed and cancelled. But in an unexpected turn, NFLPA has made some twisted decisions related to the trading card deal which has become the talk of the town.

The organization has suddenly dumped Panini, the company they have been working with for many years in favor of Fanatics, the company they haven’t started working with yet. Let’s dive into the details of this matter and find out the reason behind NFLPA’s this sudden decision. 

NFLPA cancels Panini deal 3 years in advance

NFLPA signed a 20-year-deal deal with the digital sports platform Fanatics in 2021. The deal was to produce NFL trading cards and memorabilia. But the deal had to be effective from 2026 which means there are still 3 years left.

However, NFLPA has suddenly announced that they have ended their contract with Panini. Panini is a trading cards company with which the organization has been working with. But suddenly NFLPA announced that they have given exclusive rights to Fanatics which means the termination of the deal with Panini. 

“Effective immediately, Fanatics has the exclusive right to make NFLPA-branded trading cards.”

But they also clarified that this will not affect the individual deals Fanatics have with the players. “This decision has no impact on any individual players’ contractual agreement(s) with Panini.”

The termination of the Panini deal 3 years before the schedule is quite shocking. It will badly affect Panini as Fanatics had already signed with the other two biggest sports leagues of America, including MLB and NBA.

Till now, there is no news from Panini or Fanatics. They haven’t addressed this matter yet.

Panini sued Fanatics in antitrust lawsuit 

Maybe this sudden termination of the deal is because Panini sued Fanatics in an antitrust lawsuit in August. Panini accused Fanatics that it is eliminating competition without proving competitive superiority.

“Fanatics is preemptively eliminating all competition before showing competitive superiority or any ability to benefit consumers,” the lawsuit reads

The lawsuit claims that Fanatics’ exclusive licensing deals with leagues and players’ associations create a monopoly, hindering competition. 

“By locking up player trading cards for all three major U.S. professional sports leagues for the next decade and two of them for the next two decades, Fanatics is foreclosing any meaningful competition for the foreseeable future.”


Fanatics addressed this situation by calling this lawsuit a “baseless last-gasp, flailing effort by a company that has lost touch with its consumers, is failing in the marketplace, and has tried unsuccessfully for years to sell itself.” They claimed that Panini is doing this because they have lost all their consumers.

Whatever the reality be, the NFLPA’s decision to suddenly end the deal is a setback for Panini. Panini do have a multi-year deal with English soccer’s Premier League, but the other major USA leagues are now occupied by Fanatics which leaves very less opportunities for Panini in the US market. 

Maheen Zaib

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Maheen is a writer for SportsZion. She's your go-to for all things NFL, from epic game highlights to trade scoops and breaking news. Navigating the sports scene with flair, join her on this thrilling journey through the NFL's wild ride. Let's score some great reads together!


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