Fanatics, the digital sports platform giant, has entered into its first licensing deal with an AFL Australian football side, through a tie-up with Essendon.

An exclusive long-term commerce partnership has been agreed upon, through which a “fully refreshed online store” will be opened. This will offer fans of the Melbourne AFL team a range of officially licensed merchandise, including “guernseys, training wear, headwear, fan apparel, official Essendon member apparel, and accessories.”

The club’s Bomber Shop is now live, utilizing Fanatics’ cloud commerce platform. The team has said it features hi-res product displays, frictionless checkout, multiple language options, and is the quickest way of accessing new product offerings.

Although this is the first Fanatics deal with a specific AFL team, the brand does have a league-wide agreement in place, struck in March this year.

Through that tie-up, Fanatics has become a partner of the AFL and the women’s AFLW, replacing Playcorp in the retail category.

As part of the deal, Fanatics holds exclusive master license rights to manufacture, market, and sell official AFL supporter apparel and accessories, including fan fashion apparel, knitwear, and bags.

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The brand has partnerships in place with more than 900 sporting organizations, teams, and leagues in the world, including European soccer giants Manchester United, Chelsea, and Paris Saint-Germain, England’s Football Association, UEFA, American football’s NFL, basketball’s NBA, motor racing's Formula 1, England Rugby, the British and Irish Lions, and the International Olympic Committee.

Essendon, meanwhile, only managed to finish 11th in the 18-team 2023 AFL season.

In early November, the AFL agreed to a decade-long partnership with sports marketing agency TGI Sport.

TGI has partnered with the league to upgrade the match experience at the 100,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) stadium, and the 53,359 Marvel Stadium.