Turkish Football News

Tough days ahead for Besiktas

Are besiktas in trouble?

The Black Eagles are going through a tricky phase as a club and supporters need to brace themselves for the bad times ahead.

After three consecutive seasons of dominating the Super Lig, good runs in the Champions League and Europa League, and stellar moves in the transfer market, things do not look bright for Besiktas. After a couple of uninspiring performances, a sense of frustration now overshadows the Black Eagles’ ambitions to make it to the top of the Turkish Super Lig. A gloomy outlook also troubles the club administration under Fikret Orman, the Besiktas chairman for the past six years.

The financial problems started last April after the Turkish powerhouse missed an opportunity to claim the domestic league title and participate in the UEFA Champions League. The under-performing team has been booed even by their most devout fans and reports of internal conflicts only add to Orman’s woes.

The Black Eagles were financially challenged when Orman was elected as chairman in 2012. Besiktas finished fourth in the Super Lig that season. It also declared the 2012-13 season as “FEDA” (Lifetime Commitment) season, asking fans for solidarity. It sought to limit club spending by focusing on cheaper, younger talents. The FEDA campaign didn’t prove to be a hit with fans as the club asked their supporters to be patient as the team recovers. It marked the rise of the Orman administration, which went on to take the next step in the club’s transition: replacing their historic stadium with a modern, world-class stadium.

For the next two seasons, Besiktas played their games in different stadiums across Istanbul as they waited for their new home-ground to be built. This didn’t slow them down, however, as they put in solid performances consistently and rose further in the league with Croatian coach Slaven Bilic at the helm. Under Bilic, Besiktas raised their profile and started hiring more prominent players. However, it did not last long and Bilic was eventually replaced by his predecessor Samet Aybaba.

In 2015, a new era for Besiktas began with the successful sales of Demba Ba and Atinc Nukan for €13 million and €6 million,  respectively. The sales helped the club cope with financial losses. That same year, Besiktas fully regained their place in Turkish football’s Big Three, next to Fenerbahce and Galatasaray. But that rise was much to the credit of Besiktas’s new coach Senol Gunes. The veteran Turkish coach, who took the Turkish national football team to the World Cup semifinals in 2002, brought two consecutive league titles for Besiktas.

He brought in names like Atiba Hutchinson, Jose Sosa, Oguzhan Ozyakup, Olcay Sahan, Ricardo Quaresma, Gokhan Tore, Mario Gomez and Cenk Tosun. Gunes won the hearts of fans and detractors with his own “tiki-taka” style of play, which was something relatively new for Turkish football. Add this to the opening of the Vodafone Park, the club’s new stadium with a magnificent view of the Bosporus and the club soon started basking in glory. The coffers were soon brimming with revenues from rising ticket sales, sponsor deals and Besiktas was viewed as a club with a bright future. It was the best in managing transfers, with a policy based on loans to other teams which helped boost revenues.

Though the club parted ways with its three top performers in the 2016-17 season, it managed to fill the void with Talisca, Adriano, Vincent Aboubakar and Ryan Babel who helped  Besiktas to a second league title in two seasons. The only downside for the team was missing out on the Europa League semifinals.

Happier times for the club; they finished 1st in their CL group in 2017/18.

The next season also went relatively well, with no defeats in the Champions League. However, the team’s performance in the Turkish top flight had somewhat stalled. They brought in Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo, who failed to deliver and bring Besiktas out of middling performances. Still, the record €23 million sale of striker Cenk Tosun to Everton mid-season made the Orman administration popular again. The club, however, struggled to find a replacement in Canadian forward Cyle Larin. With Larin’s transfer, fans started to question whether the club was making poor transfer decisions.

Besiktas started this season with multiple sales that brought in some €13.5 million in revenues but the club failed to meet coach Gunes’ demand for a right winger and a striker. They sold Negredo soon after the start of the season despite a solid start by the Spanish international this year.

Today, the team finds solace in seventh place in the Super League as of game week 12. But the past few weeks have been marked by fans protesting against the players, club president and the economic woes plaguing the club. Tolgay Arslan, who was under fire for his poor performance, was removed from the first team earlier this week and is reported to be close to being sold this winter. The club is also considering relieving the under-performing Oguzhan Ozyakup of his duties as captain.

The club administration, meanwhile, is stuck in a financial bottleneck. They are now devoid of at least €45 million, an amount the would have made if they had qualified for the Champions League group stages. Besiktas are already struggling to pay their players and if they cannot find new sources of revenue, the club could sink into further troubles.

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