Market Prices Not in Everything: Euro 2008

Football tickets are notourious for often being underpriced. An extreme example (world record?):

Optimistic German fans have applied for over one million tickets to watch their team at Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, leaving a lottery organised by the country's Football Association (DFB) massively oversubscribed.

A total of just 14,400 tickets are available for Germany's three group games over the border in Austria and the DFB said in a statement it took less than three days to pass the million mark in applications.

I think since this article was issued, I have seen another saying that the number is now closer to 1.5 million. Whatever the actual number, note that there are both reasons to think that this underestimates or overestimates actual demand. It may overestimate demand because people ask their friends to apply to increase their own chances of actually getting a ticket. It may underestimate demand because people don't even bother to apply.

A reasonable price in market terms would probably be something around a thousand Euros. The reason why football tickets are often underpriced is obvious: With the possible exception of food, there does not seem to be any good about which people feel so strongly that it must be "fairly" priced. If UEFA charged a market-clearing price for the tickets, this would cause a Europe-wide uproar. Also, the vast majority of UEFA's Euro 2008 revenues probably come from TV, not tickets.

An interesting topic for economists to study. Who might want to collaborate with a sociologist and/or social psychologist on this one.

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