Hanoi stadium blamed for profiteering Arsenal game

Owners of the national My Dinh stadium in Hanoi have been accused of profiteering from the high-profile friendly game between Arsenal and the Vietnamese national team on July 17 after it required exorbitant stadium fees.

Authorities of the 40,000-seat stadium demanded VND1.5 billion, which is over seven times higher than the normal price, to stage the game.

Authorities of the 40,000-seat stadium demanded VND1.5 billion, which is over seven times higher than the normal price, to stage the game.

But organizers of the much-anticipated match played down concerns that the game could be canceled. In the mean time, the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) and the match organizers – Eximbank and Hoang Anh Gia Lai FC – will ask the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism to pressure the stadium authorities to lower the fees.

The stadium has recently been transferred to direct management by the Ministry, which has not yet extended its power, so it is temporarily run by the management board of the stadium.

Reasons for the high price

“During a feast, parents must feed their children well while receiving guests,” Can Van Nghia – the stadium’s director — said in a meeting with local media on Friday to defend his decision to demand the extortionate fee to stage the friendly.

Nghia even added that he knows that Arsenal will never agree to a change in the venue stadium.

He said he doesn’t care if Eximbank and Hoang Anh Gia Lai cancel the match due to disagreement over the stadium fees.

“Now, My Dinh Stadium is not subsidized by the government, and our staff must find tens of billions of dongs a year for maintenance and the salary of 200 workers,” Nghia revealed.

“The organizers of the game didn’t consult with us to find out what we need to stage such a game,” Nghia said. “To prepare for the match, we have to paint 4,800 square meters of walls inside the sports complex, upgrade grass, and renew function rooms at a cost over a billion dong.

“We collect VND100-200 million for a normal match and so we suffer losses. The Arsenal game is a business affair and the organizers must shoulder the loss with us. They will collect VND40 billion from ticket sales, TV rights and advertisements for the game. We should share these profits.”

“We work here and they come to the stadium as if it is an ownerless place,” Nghia complained.

Nghia then added that, “VND1.5 billion is the cost for maintenance of the stadium for a whole year. We have only one game like this over many years.”

Maximum fee shouldn’t exceed VND300 million

A former leader of My Dinh Stadium who spoke to Tuoi Tre anonymously that, “All of the possible costs to stage a game at My Dinh are no more than VND300 million. My Dinh is the national stadium, certainly the home venue of the national team. So authorities of the stadium are responsible for allowing the national team to play at it.”

Le Hung Dung, Eximbank’s chairman, denied Nghia’s announcement that organizers will gain VND40 billion.

“If they think we will profit, we are willing to transfer the organizing rights to My Dinh Stadium,” Dung said.

Apart from the VND1.5 billion fee, the stadium authorities also asked organizers to give them 500 VIP tickets, Dung added, noting that organizers will only directly donate VIP tickets to officials listed by My Dinh authorities. Dung refused to hand over the tickets directly to the stadium authorities.

Dung confirmed that the normal fee for a game at My Dinh is VND200 million, so organizers can only accept a maximum fee for the Arsenal game of VND600 million.