‘New sports law will change everything’ –

The Turkish football sector has reached the bottom due to the power struggle and economic and structural problems.

Between a series of layoffs at the top, a stalemate with the global football federations, rumors of the sale of one of the oldest clubs and a new sports law, the Turkish football sector is experiencing an exciting season.

“This is a controversial season of Turkish football. We have hit the bottom in terms of referees, club management and national football management,” said international relations associate professor Ozgehan Senyuva.

“Many fans of Turkish football have left the domestic league and have gone to watch other European tournaments, especially the British Premier League. You can have football without fans, but not without spectators.”

The downward spiral of the Turkish men’s national team – exacerbated by the economic crisis and the conflicts between the elites within the heavily politicized management teams – was proved by their inability to secure a place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Fifth time in a row that they did not qualify for the global event.

High Expenses

“Turkish clubs have high expenses – whether in dollars or euros – and low income that they get in Turkish lira mainly from ticket sales. “Their finances are in serious difficulty as the Turkish currency depreciates against the dollar.”

The currency crisis makes it difficult for Turkish football clubs to attract top coaches and top players from abroad. Government and club efforts to educate local young stars have been thwarted by restrictions on COVID-19.

Even worse, most youth federations do not even have the most basic needs, such as available football pitches to train on, “Senyuva said.

“The economic difficulties combined with structural problems have changed the dynamics of Turkish football compared to European competitions. The gap between the European leagues and the Turkish and other smaller leagues, such as the Netherlands, another football-loving nation, has widened,” said John McManus, a anthropologist.

“When I came to Turkey in 2008, Fenerbahce had reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. “No Turkish fan expects a similar victory today.”

Two other crises have further disappointed both the COVID-affected football industry and football fans. Following repeated complaints from football teams over refereeing errors, TFF’s central referral committee decided to remove 13 Turkish referees, including prominent names who have refereed international matches.

The decision went beyond Turkey’s borders as both UEFA and FIFA condemned the decision. To make matters worse, the decision was overturned by the association’s Disciplinary Board, which led to the resignation of top officials, including the Vice President of Legal Affairs.

$ 750 million debt

The big four – Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, Besiktas and this year’s champion, Trabzon – all signed debt restructuring agreements with banks last year. In total, they are in debt of $ 750 million, more than three times their annual income.

But the ongoing debt delay could end with a new law drafted by the AKP and its political ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The law, which was approved by the Folketing’s Youth and Sports Committee in mid-April, changes the clubs’ status from “association” to “business” and tightens the rules on debt.

The text states that clubs must not have debts in excess of 10% of the previous year’s turnover, and it is obligatory that presidents and presidents will be held accountable.

The powers of the Ministry of Sports and the Interior over the clubs are also being extended, including their closure.

“The bill does not aim to restructure the clubs and solve the debt crisis, but merely prescribes penalties, including up to three years in prison, for mismanagement and indebtedness,” said Tugrul Aksar, an academic studying economics in the country. Turkish football.

But Saffet Sancakli, a former footballer and MHP deputy who helped draft the bill, says tighter controls are the only way to change debt-ridden clubs.

“They need to stop spending more than they can” [aan buitenlandse spelers] and invest in training local talent, ”he said as he defended the bill in parliament.

Both Senyuva and McManus argue that the key question is how the new law will be implemented. For example, what happens to those clubs that are unable to repay their debts?

“I think the big four are just too big to go bankrupt,” McManus said. “No government would want to close any of them.

Source: Turkish media

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