With UEFA reporting that 93% of all tickets for Euro 2012 have been sold, it appears that the ticket sales for the upcoming European championships have been a relative 'success'. However, does 'almost sold out' tell the true story about the demand for Euro 2012? And is there likely to be a black market for tickets in Poland and Ukraine?
UEFA claims that it has already received more than 12 million applications for the 1.4 million tickets available - the highest demand to date for any European Championships. Many Poles and Ukrainians are not happy. Citizens of the two host nations accounted for 88% of the demand for tickets, so you don't need to be a mathematical genius to calculate that the majority of Poles and Ukrainians who applied for tickets to watch the tournament in their home countries, have been unsuccessful in their applications.
At previous tournaments some of the largest demand has come from the United Kingdom and Ireland. However, England have struggled to shift tickets to their members and for the first time in decades much of England's allocation remains unsold.
The highest demand from abroad has come from Germany, Russia and - most surprisingly of all - from Switzerland. Reports from Germany suggest that around 20,000 Germans are expected to travel to the tournament, with thousands more only put off by horror stories in the German press about price gouging in Ukraine.
And what about Switzerland? Do its fans realise they didn't qualify for Euro 2012? How is it possible that more Swiss football fans want to travel to Euro 2012 than those from traditionally well-supported nations such as Sweden, Ireland, Denmark and England? Answers on a postcard please.
Will there be a black market in Poland and Ukraine? MTAG expects there to be plenty of empty seats for a number of the group matches, especially in Ukraine. It will be the usual case of fans buying tickets months in advance and subsequently being unable to travel. Also expect hundreds, if not thousands, of corporate ticket holders to be 'no shows', especially in eastern Ukraine. Those that travel without tickets, and are patient, shouldn't have much problem picking up face value tickets from fellow fans.
The only exceptions to this, as we see it, will likely be one or two of the high profile matches and games involving Germany, Poland, Ukraine and perhaps Ireland. We predict it could likely be difficult to get in to Germany v Holland, Poland v Russia and Ireland v Italy.
Once we reach the quarters it is our experience of previous tournaments that it becomes much easier to pick up tickets for matches as many football fans book up their foreign holidays for the games their team is certain to play in the first round and often leave just as the quarter finals begin.
MTAG expects a considerable number of ticketless fans to travel to Poland but doubts this will be the case with Ukraine, except for the matches played in Lviv, in western Ukraine. After all, how many fans are going to go to all the expense of buying pricey flights and hotels in Ukraine and turn up without tickets? We doubt it will be many.
It is only the price discrepancy between 'category 3' tickets and 'cat 1 & 2s' that will lead to a general black market in tickets. With cat 3 tickets available for as little as 30 euro, you can expect some people who hold tickets to be happy to make a little cash for themselves. We don't suppose a visiting fan from Germany or Holland will be too unhappy about paying 100 euro for a 30 euro ticket if it costs a similar price for a category 2 match ticket for the same match.
In conclusion, we expect Euro 2012 to be declared 'SOLD OUT' shortly before the tournament begins, but predict there will be plenty of empty seats at the majority of the matches played in Poland and Ukraine.