Fans scrimp on Euro 2012 action

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 July, 2012, 12:00am


Soccer fans have been spending the early hours watching the Euro 2012 matches in Wan Chai's bar district - but you would not have found them sitting inside sports bars.

Instead, many viewers opted for less expensive venues like tea shops and fast-food restaurants, which offered live screenings of the games.

On Friday, at a crowded cha chaan teng, or tea cafe, German fans groaned with each missed shot as striker Mario Balotelli fired Italy through to the final.

And as the Italians took on reigning champions Spain in the deciding game of the tournament early this morning, supporters could munch on Big Macs as McDonald's showed the game in 14 of its 24-hour branches.

The crestfallen Germans have not been the only losers. Sports bar owners looked as miserable as beaten coach Joachim Low at Friday's game, as cash-conscious fans turned to lower cost options.

'It's definitely hurting us,' said Jacky Yeung, manager of the Roundhouse bar in Tsim Sha Tsui. 'It is definitely hurting us.'

Yeung, who was managing another sports bar the last time Europe's top soccer competition took place in 2008, says revenues were 60 per cent lower this time.

While 53-year-old stockbroker Jacky Tse watched the Germany v Italy semi-final at a sports bar, he acknowledged that cheaper options had their upsides.

'A beer is HK$60 [at a bar] and there's nothing to eat here like there is at a cha chaan teng. Expats don't often go to cha chaan teng, but they can enjoy the game cheaply,' he said. 'They can grab a HK$10 beer from 7-Eleven and watch on the footpath.'

A block away from the Wan Chai bars, Date Day Restaurant was one of the businesses cashing in on the sporting fun, offering meals for around HK$20 as Euro 2012 was played out in Poland and Ukraine.

McDonald's spokeswoman Vanesa Luk said that since they had shown the European tournament at stores, they have netted more customers.

In contrast, at the cavernous Champs sports bar in Causeway Bay, customers were scarce and the doors sometimes closed before the action started.

Manager Stewart Banister said the 'late broadcast times' - all games in the knockout stages kicked off at 2.45am Hong Kong time - had been a factor, and agreed that business was better four years ago.