Hungary has one of the lowest average attendances for top flight football for any country in Europe. 2,913 for the 2013/2014 season (highly comparable with the Swedish second tier). Indeed the first time visitor to a Hungarian game will be fairly taken aback by the empty swathes of banked tarmac. But no more…in years to come the first time visitor will be taken aback not by the empty plastic seats in identikit stadiums up and down Hungary.
Up to thirty new stadiums are to be built and funded by the government (aka the Hungarian/EU taxpayer): a government whose head, Orban Viktor, happens to be an ardent football fan (anyone remember Sim City?). This is seen as a first step on the road to restoring Hungarian football to its past greats.
Three stadiums have already been finished: Pancho Arena (Puskas Akademia)*, Nagyerdei Stadium (Debrecen) and Groupama Arena (Ferencvaros or FTC). Judging by the attendances for the first five home games at the 23,000 capacity Groupama Arena, the famous Field of Dreams misquotation “If you build it, they will come” seems to be horribly ill-placed.
I for one am not looking forward to watching my football at the New Hidegkuti Nandor Stadium (or possiblythe Wizz Air Stadium), but am looking forward to understanding why Hungary a country in which everyone’s favourite numbers are 6 and 3 refuses to watch football.
* I will be visiting (have already visited in this strange catch-up world I am in) the Pancho Arena soon. Oh la la!!
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