Tickets for England's match against Hungary tomorrow night will be sold on the gate at Wembley, but the attendance should still be larger than for any other friendly in Europe this week and only the visit of the world champions Spain to the 105,000-Azteca Stadium in Mexico is likely to prove a bigger global attraction.
Fabio Capello's men may have to face a fiery reception, but if they were hoping the jeers would be lost among row upon row of empty seats they are likely to be disappointed. The Football Association is expecting a crowd of more than 60,000 and claims to have been selling tickets at the rate of 1,000 a day in the last few days.
The last time England played an August friendly at Wembley was two years ago, when 69,738 turned up to watch a 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic in the early, rosy days of the Capello regime. A late surge of interest could still see that attendance matched, but is it a case of the glass being two-thirds full, or a third empty?
"Everything is relative," said Kevin Miles of the Football Supporters Federation. "There will not be a better attended game in Europe and that is something after the summer we have had.
"It is a testament to the support and loyalty of England fans. There is a lot of frustration among regulars, especially those who went to South Africa. There was a feeling that they had made more effort getting out there than they were seeing from the players on the pitch. But they are supporters of the national team and that does not change whatever happens.
"There is a general feeling of dissatisfaction. People don't go along just to boo, although it will depend on who he puts out. If most of the team that played against Germany take the field..."
The FA has reduced prices for the game – a decision taken long before England departed for South Africa – with £40 the most expensive. That compares favourably with the €40 (£33) the Football Association of Ireland is charging for the cheapest seats for the Republic of Ireland's friendly against Argentina.
"Sales are very strong in the circumstances," a spokesman for the FA said. "Any time you play an August friendly, attendances are generally lower. We expected that and that is why we lowered prices before the World Cup."
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