Welcome to the latest edition of Bull Case Bear Case. As always, the goal is to give investors a clear, balanced view of both sides of the coin. Prepare to tackle the week with confidence!
1958 Pelé World Cup Debut Ticket Stub (PSA 1.5)
4/12 @ 12:00 PM ET
Soccer’s Mantle. Rally shareholders are no stranger to Pelé. The platform facilitated the record setting $1.3 million buyout of the PSA 9 Alifabolaget Pelé rookie card, solidifying the player’s collectability at the pinnacle of the sport. His list of accomplishments is quite lengthy: three time World Cup winner, most career goals, most goals for Brazil, most hat-tricks, and FIFA Player of the Century (shared with Maradona). At the 1958 World Cup, from which this stub hails, he became the youngest World Cup goalscorer, winner, and hat-trick scorer (not at this particular match), while also being the youngest to score in a World Cup Final.
Soccer tickets lagging. While the soccer card market has sharply appreciated over the last 18 months, led by Pelé, Maradona, Messi, and Ronaldo cards, tickets have yet to experience the same degree of momentum. The rest of the ticket market has, of course, exploded, with four of the top five sales of all time taking place in just the first three months of 2022. It is odd that those two forces have not converged to produce soccer ticket values for key moments of the right players that rival those in other sports. One would be inclined to categorize the World Cup debut of one of the most celebrated international players ever as "key moment, right player". In fact, the highest price achieved to date at Goldin for a soccer ticket is a mere $49k, for a Lionel Messi debut stub. In a world where six figure stub sales are now borderline routine, one would expect key soccer stubs to close the gap, bolstered by the rising tides in both the sport’s collecting market and in the ticket market.
Population can be viewed favorably or discounted. In total, PSA has graded 39 stubs to this game. Compare that to the Alifabolaget rookie card, which has 105 graded examples, and bear in mind that the card has several peers. The favorable population thesis that has played no small role in pushing the broader ticket market forward is at play here, though the quantities are perhaps not quite as low as you’d like to see from a 1950s event. Additionally, there are stubs to other matches at the tournament: 126 in total, 122 for Brazil matches, and 117 for matches in which Pelé played. This somewhat weakens the favorability of the population.
Soft comps. This past weekend at Goldin, two stubs to this very game were sold. The first, graded PSA 1, sold for just $12,600. That’s just a third of a January result for a PSA 1 (MK), which sold for $36,000. The other stub to sell was a PSA 3, making it the second highest graded example. It sold for $39,600, which is a 17.5% discount to the valuation here (for a lower graded example). Eight stubs are graded PSA 1.5, with 20 graded higher (which is approximately half of the total population). This stub was purchased on 2/26 at Heritage for $42,000. Unfortunately, the sales that have taken place since have (somewhat oddly) not lived up to the same billing. Another example: PWCC sold a PSA 2 example at their March Premier Auction for just $18,000.
More significant games lurking? Unquestionably, the match represented here is a significant moment in Pelé's career. It was the start of a decorated World Cup career that saw him win the competition three times and set the record for career assists. However, there are other matches of perhaps greater significance that could push this ticket into the background should stubs surface, limiting the long-term appeal. First, there’s stubs to the Final of this very tournament, in which Pelé scored twice; thirty such tickets have been graded by PSA. Then, there are the player’s actual debuts. He made his club debut at Santos in 1956, aged 15, and scored his first professional goal in that game. He debuted for Brazil in 1957, aged 16, and scored his first international goal in that game against Argentina, becoming the country’s youngest ever goalscorer, a record which still stands. Either of those occasions may be deemed more significant than this one. However, tickets to either have not surfaced for grading at PSA. Given the relative nascence of soccer ticket collecting though(and soccer & ticket collecting more broadly), the risk that such artifacts would surface is not immaterial.
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