Inflation is draining fans’ wallets. It’s already visible

Inflation in Poland is at its highest level in 24 years, as can be seen in the daily groceries. Due to the ubiquitous high prices, Poles have less money in their wallets. This in turn translates into filling the stadiums.

Lukasz Kuczera

Fans at the stadium in Leszno

WP SportoweFakty / Jakub Brzózka / In the photo: Fans at the stadium in Leszno

According to data published by the Central Statistical Office of Poland (GUS), prices of goods and services rose by an average of 12.4 percent in April. higher than the year before. There has not been such a high inflation in Poland since 1998. The ubiquitous price increase was ‘hit’ by the war in Ukraine, which mainly led to a rise in fuel and energy prices. Experts have no good news – high inflation will be with us for a while.

The stadiums are starting to empty

In a situation where the average Kowalski has to spend more and more on the necessary goods, entertainment is relegated to the background. An alarming drop in attendance is seen in selected PGE Ekstraliga centers. For example, in Leszno, the average audience of two meetings this year is 5.5 thousand. In 2019, the last year before the coronavirus outbreak, more than 11,000 people came to the stadium every game. fans.

Pustki before the opening of the season were also in Gorzów and Częstochowa, where the first matches of Moje Bermuda Stali or Włókniarz 6 and 7.5 thousand came. people. In 2019, both clubs could boast a much better attendance – 10.1 thousand respectively. and 13.8 thousand.

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– Something worrying is going on, because just a few years ago in some centers all tickets were sold out and there were practically no tickets for a particular match – notes Marta Półtorak, drawing attention to rising inflation and declining purchasing power of money.

According to the former president of Stal Rzeszow, the decline in attendance cannot be explained by the fact that some matches were played on Friday in bad weather, as there have been no problems with turnout before the opening of the round so far. – Television, however, plays a role in this declining turnout. If prices go up and the matches are well packed, sometimes the fan stays at home and watches everything in front of the TV, since he pays the subscription anyway – adds Półtorak.

The matches in Lublin are a positive exception these days
The matches in Lublin are a positive exception these days

The same is seen by Jan Krzystyniak, who doesn’t believe the speedway will eat too much in Leszno, after Fogo Unia won the Polish champion’s title four years in a row. – I talk to the fans and they tell me that if they have a choice between speedway or surcharges, they have to pay the latter. Obviously – claims a former player of Leszno’s “Bulls”.

Making urban centers easier?

The drop in attendance does not primarily affect two clubs in PGE Ekstraliga – Betard Sparta Wrocław and Motor Lublin. When the residents of Wrocław recently attacked the weakest Arged Males Ostrów, fewer than 10,000 people appeared in the stands. fans. They were not bothered by the fact that the game was played on Friday afternoon. A few days earlier, when the residents of Ostrów came to Leszno, 4,000 people came to the stadium. fans. The difference is colossal.

In Lublin, on the other hand, we have to deal with a full audience every game. “Koziołki” is regularly followed by more than 8,000 people. fans. – The stadium in Lublin is small, which is not without significance. If there were an object of similar size in Leszno, we would also be talking about a set every round – notes Krzystyniak.

– Lublin hadn’t had a speedway for a while, not to mention the battle for the top positions. Now, after many years, fans finally have a team at the same level, and this is attracting. We see the same in Krosno, where the club is starting to function better, Półtorak adds.

According to Półtorak, it is not without significance that Wrocław and Lublin are major urban centers. – We are talking about capitals of voivodeship, where the region’s financial attention is focused. Wages are higher there than in smaller centers. Therefore, inflation affects them to a lesser extent – says the former president of “Żurawi”, who believes that clubs from smaller towns may feel the problems caused by raging inflation more strongly.

Costs for clubs are rising

Attendance is one thing, ticket prices another. In 2019, a normal ticket for a meeting of the Fogo Unia in Leszno to the high booth was PLN 120 or PLN 100 – depending on the place. Currently, it is 140 or 120 PLN. In Wrocław, in pre-pandemic times, normal access to the premium west stand cost 65 PLN. Now it is PLN 65-70, so the increase is symbolic.

– Sparta is doing very well in the field of marketing. There you see the pursuit of results and success. For years the club tried to win the Polish Championship, finally managing to win it in 2021. Current attendance includes a derivative of last year’s success. However, there is no doubt that fans in Wrocław are richer than in other cities – analyzes Krzystyniak.

The decline in turnout in Leszno is noticeable
The decline in turnout in Leszno is noticeable

It is worth remembering that inflation affects not only fans but also clubs. Due to the higher costs of electricity, the costs for organizing meetings have increased. The costs on the salaries of employees or players are also higher. Therefore, for many activists, raising ticket prices before the 2022 season was the only solution to balance the budget.

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