The average gross monthly salary of Hungarian first division footballers came out to HUF 2.9 million (EUR 8,200) in the 2020/2021 season, according to economic investigative site Mfor’s report, in reference to UEFA’s recently-released financial report. This may have further increased since. Playing in the Hungarian football championships pays very well, which results have yet to justify.
In the 2020-21 season, Hungarian clubs invested EUR 82 million in total in wages, which comes to HUF 6.8 million per club on average. This is a considerable hike from two years ago (the previous year’s data is unavailable) when it was only EUR 63.6 million. Percentage-wise, Hungary booked one of the biggest hikes in Europe, only Germany’s went further up, while more than half of the countries examined saw a decrease in this matter.
Regarding clubs’ spending on wages, Hungary is the 19th in Europe.
According to Mfor‘s calculations (based on the fact that out of this 82 million euros, 45 million was actually spent on the players’ wages and the rest went to the staff, while during that season clubs employed an average of 38 players) this comes to an average wage of HUF 2.9 million per player.
On top of that, Mfor argues that this average could have climbed since then to around HUF 4 million (EUR 11,300) per player, as the number of players in the Hungarian league was exceptionally high in the 2020-21 season. Lately, however, it has been ruled that “only” 28 players are allowed to be employed per club, and it is unlikely that wage spending went down in parallel, which results in a higher average.
Comparisons: Huge amount of money, few results
While Hungary is in the top 20 in footballer wage spending in Europe, this is not the case in terms of results as the Hungarian championships are only ranked 27th in strength according to UEFA coefficient at the moment (while back in the 2020/2021 season NB1 was only 28th).
In addition, in the last three seasons, Ferencváros (whose financial capabilities are exceptional even in Hungarian standards) was the only one able to reach the group stage of either European international football tournament. Furthermore, the main body of the national team is generally made up of athletes playing abroad.
Certainly, footballers tend to pocket outstanding amounts all over the world in comparison to the national average. Still, to put this into context, back in May, 2021 (the end of the football season) the average gross salary in Hungary was HUF 431,600 (1,220 today) – a little less than one-seventh of that amount. In addition, the government tends to provide athletes with generous tax benefits too (resulting in a higher net salary).
At the end of 2018, the government once again doubled
the upper limit of tax concessions for athletes, called EKHO, to a yearly income of HUF 500 million (EUR 1.4 million), or a monthly net of HUF 35.4 million (EUR 100,000). EKHO means better tax payable: 19.5% for the employer and 15% for the employee, while the salary of an average employee (with no children) is usually taxed around 40%.
And how could these clubs afford the relatively high wages? Except for Gyirmót, all the NB1 clubs are now led by Fidesz politicians or pro-government businessmen (although Újpest’s takeover was only announced some days ago), attracting several well-to-do companies as financial backers. In addition, football clubs have received some HUF 356.7 billion (EUR 1.01 billion today) of TAO money (companies’ support in lieu of paying part or all of their profit taxes in the state budget) over the last ten years.
featured image: MOL Fehérvár scores against Armenian Ararat Yerevan to later drop out of the Conference League, against the odds; via Tibor Illyés/MTI