Football clubs in Turkey are struggling with debt and despite policy changes, things are not getting better.
The traditional powerhouses in Turkish football known as The Big Four — Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, Besiktas & Trabzonspor — show no signs of improvement when it comes to their finances. The latest figures reported indicate the four clubs have a collective debt of 10.4 billion Turkish Lira (TL) — roughly €1.6 billion.
Fenerbahce have been crippled by their debt, which stands at 4.2 billion TL (approx. €675 million), according to the figures reported by the club to the Istanbul stock exchange.
In comparison, the collective debt of the four clubs was just over 2.6 billion TL back in 2012. Last year, that figure rose to 9.8 billion TL.
Galatasaray, who recently announced their debt at their annual general assembly, have a total debt of 2.8 billion TL (approx. €450 million). The club’s chairman Mustafa Cengiz was quoted as saying the club is “struggling to exist.”
“We are in a fight for survival. We are exhausted. People may be all smiles on the outside but they are crying on the inside,” Cengiz said during his speech at a convention held by the club’s members last week.
“All clubs are in a state of exhaustion. Income is four times less than expenditures,” he said.
Similarly, Fenerbahce chairman Ali Koc said the Yellow Canaries are “going through a period where financial support is needed most.”
Besiktas, who have had to terminate that contracts of several players due to their financial woes, have a debt of 2.3 billion TL (approx. €369 million). The club’s chairman, Fikret Orman, who has been heavily criticized by the club’s passionate supporters, justified their spending spree last year in order to compete against their rivals.
Trabzonspor, on the other hand, have the least amount of debt compared to the three Istanbul clubs. The Northern Turkish club are carrying a total debt of 1.4 billion TL (approx. €225 million).
The club’s chairman Ahmet Agaoglu recently spoke publicly about the club’s worsening finances, reminding fans that the previous administration’s transfer deals has crippled the club due to fines over previous unpaid debt relating to transfers from AC Milan and FC Midtjylland.