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Most Successful Hungarian Club of the 21st Century Relegated, as Ferencváros Defends Title

Ábrahám Vass 2020.06.29.

Debreceni VSC, the most successful Hungarian club of the past 20 years, was relegated from the top flight of Hungarian football, resulting in minor disturbances on the field by some spectators after the final whistle. In addition, Orbán’s Puskás Akadémia, located in Felcsút, grabbed the bronze medal, qualifying for the Europa League for the first time in their history. The gold medals go to Ferencváros, who were the first reigning champions in ten years being able to defend their title. The last team that was able to achieve such an accomplishment was Debrecen.

Since 1999, Debrecen has won the Championships seven times, and the cup six times. In addition, the red-whites qualified once both in the Champions League’s and the Europa Legaue’s group stage, and reaching the third round in the UEFA Cup in 2004.

In the deciding last game against Paks, due to the other results, and that Paks was ahead by two points, Debrecen had to win to avoid relegation. While the Hajdúság team had the chance to gain victory up until the very end of the game, it hit the goal post in the 94th, eventually meaning that Hungary’s second biggest city would be left with no team in the NB1 at least for one year.

Frustration broke loose right after the final whistle, as around 100 fans entered the pitch, some of them stripping players of their kits and only the police’s arrival restored order in the new stadium. Meanwhile in the VIP sector, a person close to club president (and casino owner) Gábor Szima, attacked one of the fans who loudly criticized the club leader.

In addition, Viktor Orbán’s (he founded the Academy, and the house where the prime minister grew up is virtually next door to the stadium), and his childhood friend, fast-emerging, gas-fitter-turned billionaire Lőrinc Mészáros’ Puskás Akadémia grabbed the bronze medal. The team is located in a small village, Felcsút, with a population of less than 2,000 residents. Their success, however, hasn’t surprised many, as they have long been on the receiving end of generous financial support (according to calculations, the Felcsút football team has pocketed HUF 68 billion (Eur 191 million) since 2011) from government-linked and state companies, thanks to the TAO scheme, a public fund that allows companies to make “charitable contributions” to qualified sports clubs in lieu of paying part or all of their profit taxes in the budget.

Puskás Akadémia is also regularly criticized, that despite that it’s original aim was to become a young talent power house, it still tends to sign international players, while according to the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ), it bottoms a comparison that lists the number of young players making a debut in the NB1 between 2015 and 2019.  Anyhow, Felcsút will definitely be one of the smallest municipalities to ever host a European game in their prize-winning stadium designed by famous Hungarian architect Imre Makovecz.

Finally, Ferencváros once again emerged as Hungary’s best football team, while MOL Fehérvár came in second place. Besides Debrecen, Kaposvár relegated, while MTK Budapest and Budafok won promotion for next season in the Hungarian top flight, with the latter managing to participate at the highest (Hungarian) level after 74 years. And Debrecen won’t have an easy ride in the second division either, where they would have to overpower historic and popular teams like Győri ETO, Vasas, Nyíregyháza, and Haladás for the promotion.

featured image via Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI