SBJ/May 13-19, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

MLS makes Topps its official card

Major League Soccer has signed a six-year agreement with Topps that gives the card company the designation “official trading card producer” for MLS. Financial terms were unavailable.

Andrew Farrell's autographed card will be part of this year’s collection.
Topps, which aims to release its first MLS collection in July, receives exclusivity on cards, player stickers and sticker albums. The company plans to produce special cards of MLS stars such as Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls and Robbie Keane of the Los Angeles Galaxy. Autographed cards — featuring Andrew Farrell, the first overall pick in the 2013 draft by the New England Revolution, among others — will be part of this year’s collection, as well. The card company will activate at league events, including the All-Star Game in July and the season-ending MLS Cup championship match.

Maribeth Towers, MLS senior vice president of consumer products, said discussions with Topps started six months ago. The league’s trading card license with Upper Deck expired after the 2012 season.

Topps, which had never partnered with MLS before this deal, has trading card licenses with the English Premier League and the Bundesliga in Germany.

“We were impressed by Topps’ concepts for us and the success they’ve had in England and Germany,” Towers said.
Topps brand manager Jeff Heckman, who worked for the Los Angeles Galaxy from 2001-03 in sales and youth soccer programs, said his company needed little convincing about the growth of MLS.

“I saw the beginning of the trajectory when I was with the Galaxy and now I see MLS getting very close to the top four major leagues in North America,” Heckman said. “When the MLS license became available, we didn’t hesitate to bid. We see a lot of opportunities to develop business.”

MLS and Topps completed the agreement without agency involvement. Topps also has partnerships with the NFL, MLB, UFC and WWE.

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