Wednesday, March 24, 2010

DEVELOPING STORY: Upper Deck Loses Their Football License?

Well, I have some bad news for football collectors, news that I have been expecting for a few weeks now. I got word from the peanut gallery that Upper Deck is losing their football license due to non-payment on the fees or something to that degree. Although this news is speculative at this point, and very much unconfirmed, I have a feeling we will get the news later this month or early next month. After recent troubles, speculation on lack of funds has run rampant, and this should only add fuel to the fire.

With UD possibly leaving football for the foreseeable future, it leaves an open spot for Topps to return to the fold, which may be the other side of the announcement. It may also spell the end of a company who has produced the best looking cards of anyone in the football market in the last few years. With their baseball and basketball arms all but severed, Im not sure how much longer they will be able to stay viable. Football was a profitable brand, and Exquisite is looking to be one of the best products in a long time. As this news would suggest, it’s the last product they will make in the football market, something that makes me a very sad panda.

I cant really fault anyone but the top brass over at Upper Deck, as the management of the company has been piss poor lately. Where UD had finally started to build a good reputation among people, that construction was mostly destroyed with the news of the Konami lawsuit. Though Topps may return with fan favorites like their base set and the Chromes, we are also going to have a hole where Upper Deck's MO of great looking cards and on card sigs usually fit. Its rare that a company has as many problems as Upper Deck has had in the last few months, especially with so many of them stemming from unethical and unsound financial behavior. I guess this is the nail in the coffin.

For me, if this situation turns out to be true, im pretty much done buying current football cards unless Panini and Topps change their tendencies to match my tastes. I doubt that will happen, so that makes me feel extra cynical about the future of what I will buy in the upcoming years.

Hopefully, I am wrong.



  1. Wow. I really hope this is inaccurate.

  2. This sucks. You know for all of the mismanagement, questionable business tactics, and unethical practives the ones that really get screwed are the collectors. Karma is a bitch and what comes around goes around and we reap what we sow. How true this is playing out for UD despite consistently producing the best looking sports trading cards in the market.

    This sucks BIG TIME!

  3. If UD goes under, does that leave the door open for Pro Set to make a return?

  4. Some things never change and I was there from just about the very beginning. I had to defend the many many early bankruptcy rumors. But the guy at the top has never been very ethical and has always taken his payables as far as he can so it would come as no surprise that he is in trouble with the NFL. FINALLY things are coming around to where it bites him big time.....Jay McCracken

  5. Let's breakdown recent events:
    Konami - Settled, payments over next few months.
    MLBP - Release of Ultimate, MLBP lawsuit, settlement for monies owed and money made on product. Agree to no more releases unless MLBP approves.
    NFL - Wants money owed to them for licensing fees.

    Do I find this a coincidence that the NFL comes calling to UD on money just before the release of their Exquisite? This does not surpise me at all! I would suggest UD scramble for the money they owe and pay them what they are asking! If UD tries to call the NFL's "bluff" just like they did with MLBP and releases Exquisite, the longterm outlook for the company does not look good!

    Additional company layoffs and sales of merchandise (convert assets to cash) will only spell out that the "Sharks are circling! The water keeps getting Hotter and Hotter every month!

    Interesting stuff Adam and Jay!!

  6. This would correspond to separate rumors that Topps losing their license for NFL Properties is not yet a done deal, and that negotiations with the league continue in order to explore options.

    The NFL is still sweating its court case vs. American Needle to see to what extent it indeed can grant license exclusives at all.

    While that settles out, it stands to reason that the NFL would be watching UD's recent legal soakings, and worrying about their bottom line.

    It's not surprising that UD may be on a very short leash with the NFL, and by mid-summer, we'll see who ends up still having a relationship with the most popular sports league in the country.

  7. The turn of misfortune at UD doesn't seem to be ending, as Panini announces a new "semi-exclusive"
    license with the NHL.

    Hot on the heels of Topps producing its NHL non-card card game Puck Attax, UD will face new competition in what was their last remaining significant exclusive license.

    The real surprise is how fast Panini has become dominant (much less relevant) well within two years of acquiring Donruss. Seems like the licensors really like the European-based stability of Panini's business. Who would have thought that a lingering, mostly dormant brand like Donruss would be in the market gorilla position in 2010?

    How long will it take before Panini just outright acquires UD?

    Maybe UD can find a way to make it through.

    They could always produce the long-awaited "Comic Ball III" expansion...

  8. Whoa! This is a stunner if it's true.

    UD is releasing a baseball set w/o the cooperation of the MLBPA, so what's to stop them from doing another football set?