UK-based sportswear manufacturer Reebok yesterday signed a contract with the National Football League granting it the exclusive apparel license for the NFL for ten years.

The contract is worth up to $250 million in royalties to the NFL but is subject to a clause that if invoked could give the sports body a stake in a new division devoted solely to manufacturing NFL merchandise.

From 2002, when the agreement takes effect, Reebok will gain sole control over Pro Line apparel, the sportswear all NFL players and coaches wear during American football matches. This will replace the current system where several different companies are licensed to make Pro Line gear. Reebok also gain the rights to sell NFL-branded merchandise and fitness equipment.

The NFL has been looking to change its approach to sportswear for the last year, following the decline in the sports merchandise market since the mid-1990s. “Our business model in apparel was outdated and left us in a passive role,” admitted NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Championing the new Reebok deal, he added: “This will mean high quality apparel that focuses on games, the history of the league, fitness and cutting-edge fashion”.

News source: New York Times