As NFL gamers take a knee, Papa John’s says its pizza gross sales are taking successful.

The nationwide chain, the official pizza sponsor of the National Football League, is blaming its declining gross sales on the league, saying it is failing to deal with the continued protests by soccer gamers who kneel in the course of the nationwide anthem to protest racial injustice.

“The NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders,” CEO John Schnatter mentioned throughout an badyst name on Wednesday. “The NFL has been a long and valued partner over the years. But we’re certainly disappointed that the NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties long ago. This should’ve been nipped in the bud a year and half ago.”

Papa John’s has complained on to the NFL about its decreased in-game pizza gross sales, in response to the New York Business Journal.

Fewer individuals are watching NFL video games. Nielsen scores have been down 5% for the primary eight weeks of the present season from the identical interval in 2016, and down 18.7% from 2015.

The declining NFL viewership stems not solely from some folks being upset concerning the nationwide anthem protests, but in addition from these involved about concussions. Plus, a rising variety of soccer followers are opting to look at the video games on-line as an alternative of on tv.

NFL representatives couldn’t instantly be reached for remark about Schnatter’s criticisms.

On Wednesday, the Louisville, Ky.-based firm reported a 1.6% enhance in third-quarter revenue. Net revenue totaled $21.eight million for the three-month interval ended Sept. 24, in contrast with $21.5 million in the identical stretch a 12 months earlier. Earnings per share have been 60 cents within the newest quarter on income of almost $432 million.

In a badysis observe subtitled “Sponsorship of NFL = No Free Lunch,” Nomura Instinet badyst Mark Kalinowski wrote, “It indeed appears that National Football League strife may be weighing on same-store sales to some degree.”

But not everybody was shopping for the league as a scapegoat.

“The NFL was a factor, but not the only factor. Severe weather had an impact in the quarter as well as some industry-wide challenges,” mentioned CFRA fairness badyst Efraim Levy.

Papa John’s is the NFL’s most acknowledged sponsor for the second 12 months in a row, in response to an annual survey by Sports activitiesBusiness Journal and Turnkey Intelligence.

The pizza chain runs adverts in the course of the video games and makes use of NFL logos and in its promoting and advertising and marketing campaigns. In addition, the corporate has native tie-ins, like providing free toppings within the Washington, D.C., space for touchdowns the Redskins rating.

The nationwide anthem controversy started in August 2016 when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick selected to not stand when “The Star-Spangled Banner”performed, and as an alternative dropped to 1 knee. As information of what he did unfold, extra gamers started to protest the identical method. By the 2017 season, as many as 250 have been kneeling for the anthem to take a stance about racial injustice and police violence.

In September, the controversy leaped from residing rooms and bars to the White House, with President Donald Trump advising group homeowners to fireplace gamers who failed to face for the music. In the weeks since then, he is slammed NFL management for not stopping the participant protests.

Papa John’s, the world’s third-largest pizza supply firm, has greater than 5,000 areas, in response to the corporate web site.

Papa John’s inventory was down $5.94, or 9%, to $62.11 in early afternoon buying and selling.