Soaring Ticket Prices: The Economics of Fandom and the Hungarian Football Fever
The Marketability of the Hungarian National Team
According to sports economist Gábor Szabados, the soaring prices of tickets for the European Championship qualifier between Hungary and Serbia reflects the increased marketability of the Hungarian national team. Despite the exorbitant prices, fans are still willing to purchase these tickets, indicating that their decisions are driven by their passion for the sport and the team, a phenomenon that Szabados describes as a rational economic decision.
The Hungarian national team has been enjoying a surge in popularity in recent years, thanks to impressive performances in the European Championship and unexpected victories in the Nations League under the leadership of head coach Marco Rossi. This has led to a high demand for tickets, with over 30,000 season tickets being sold in advance for the qualifier at the Puskás Arena, which has a capacity of 67,000.
The Ticket Sales Phenomenon
The Hungarian Football Association (MLSZ) confirmed that all available tickets for the October 14 match were sold out within less than three hours. The tickets, grouped into four categories, were priced between 6,000 and 21,500 forints. Members of the SzurkolóiKlub were given a 15% discount.
However, shortly after the tickets were sold out, ticket resellers began offering them on social media platforms for 100-120 thousand forints, five to ten times the original price. This is a clear indication of the high demand for tickets, but it also highlights a criminal activity that needs to be addressed, as it excludes genuine fans who want to support the team but cannot afford the inflated prices.
Addressing the Issue of Ticket Reselling
Szabados argues that while the demand for tickets is shaping the supply, this does not justify the criminal activity of ticket reselling. He recalls that in the 1990s and 2000s, such transactions were common in the streets and squares around stadiums, but the activity has now moved online. He stresses the need to address this issue, as it hinders genuine fans from supporting their team at the venue.
He also criticizes the MLSZ for not planning for such a high demand for tickets. He suggests that the association should consider allowing name changes on tickets or tighten regulations to curb ticket reselling. However, he acknowledges that there is no consensus on how to enforce identity checks at entry points.
Lessons from the Hungarian Football Fever
The Hungarian Football Fever provides valuable insights into the economics of fandom and the marketability of sports teams. It demonstrates that fans are willing to pay exorbitant prices for tickets to support their favorite teams, a phenomenon that can be exploited by criminals. Therefore, there is a need for better regulation of ticket sales and reselling, as well as stronger enforcement of identity checks at entry points.
Furthermore, the phenomenon underscores the importance of planning for high demand for tickets. Sports associations should anticipate a surge in demand for tickets following successful performances by their teams and adjust their ticket sales strategies accordingly. This will ensure that genuine fans are not excluded from supporting their teams due to inflated ticket prices.
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