Companies rush to sponsor Orbán’s football club, Puskás Academy
The 32 clubs of the Hungarian National Football League 1 and 2 (OTP League 1, and Merkantil League 2) have a total of 219 sponsors. The most “popular” club is the one, which was founded by PM Viktor Orbán. Puskás Academy from Felcsút, the village of the prime minister, has 41 sponsors, 17 of them are construction companies which are highly successful on public procurements.
Last week news site 444.hu wrote that Puskás Academy “has almost more sponsors than attendance”, and the article enumerated the first league’s sponsorships. Now we collected all the sponsors of the first and the second league’s club-sponsorships from the club’s homepages. We consider sponsorship of the Hungarian football important, because football is the prime minister’s favorite sport, and sponsorship can be a good indicator of lobbying.
According to the data collected Puskás Academy, which now plays in the League 1, has the most sponsors, a total of 41 companies. Seventeen out of the 41 are construction companies, many of them owned by Orbán’s good friend, Hungary’s second richest man, Lőrinc Mészáros (who is former mayor of Felcsút), others can be linked to Mészáros and his circle, but we can also find multinational companies like Strabag or Swietelsky.
The construction sector is the largest sponsor of the Hungarian club football, meanwhile in Europe, the largest sponsors are financial institutions, retailers and (not state owned) gambling companies – as the newest UEFA report puts out.
The most interesting finding is that the largest sponsor of Hungarian football is the German automotive giant, Volkswagen. Volkswagen sponsors 11 of the first and second league clubs. Volkswagen is one of the global sponsors of EURO 2020, and the Hungarian national selection is also represented in the company’s communication activities.
But Volkswagen’s interest in Hungarian football might have an other reason. The German company wants to build a new factory, and Hungary has become a main destination for German automotive companies in the past years: Audi and BMW also decided to install a new factory here thanks to the Government’s gallant tax-politics and other beneficial conditions offered – what means that large part of their investment will be financed by Hungarian taxpayers’ money.
It is not unusual for a multinational company to express its interest like this, it also happens in the media advertising market.
According to the aforementioned UEFA report, 49% of the revenues of the Hungarian clubs come from sponsorship, and 46% from “other” sources, like company taxes (which is public money channeled into club football), or financial aid by the local municipalities. Meanwhile other sources like television rights, gate receipts or UEFA represent only the remaining 5% of their revenues.
This revenue structure is very different from other European leagues where television rights and gate receipts are the main sources of income. This means that the state and the hijacked private sector are the main sponsors of football in Hungary.
Written and translated by Attila Bátorfy, data visualisation by ATLO
You can read the original, Hungarian language story here.