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2019-20 TSL season kicks off with new rules

The Turkish Super Lig kicks off on August 16 with defending champions Galatasaray travelling to newly-promoted Denizlispor.

With plenty of new transfers and coaches, training camps concluded, preseason friendlies played and the new Turkish Super Lig (TSL) season is now less than a week away. The season opener will be contested by newly-promoted Denizlispor and defending champions Galatasaray.

A number of changes to deter hooliganism as well as regulations which give referees more authority await fans and clubs alike in the new season.

For the time being, there is just one foreign coach currently managing in the country’s top flight — Romanian coach Marius Samudica of Gazisehir Gaziantep FK — while all the rest are Turkish nationals.

There have been a total of 10 managerial changes, such as Abdullah Avi leaving Istanbul Basaksehir for city rivals Besiktas, while 8 lucky coaches have kept their jobs since last season.

Undoubtedly, the biggest obstacle for most clubs will be Galatasaray, the defending champions of the Turkish Super Lig.

Galatasaray’s coach, Fatih Terim has the coveted title of being the coach with the most trophies in the TSL with 8 league titles with Galatasaray. Currently, in his fourth stint with The Lions, Terim remains a force to be reckoned with for the club’s rivals, including last year’s runner-up Istanbul Basaksehir, who have appointed former Galatasaray player Okan Buruk as their coach.

The 2019-2020 season of the Turkish Super Lig will be different from the previous seasons, however, with new regulations that came into force after the end of the previous campaign.

New laws passed by the current government will see hefty fines and punishment for fan violence both inside and outside stadiums. Under the new law, the designation of sports venues was changed to include places where fans gather before and after games and routes they use to arrive or leave sporting events. Thus, security forces will be authorized to impose additional security measures to combat hooliganism. It also revised and broadened the definition of hooliganism. Sports federations and clubs will be allowed to hire private security services but in top-tier professional leagues, law enforcement will also be deployed and will be paid additional fees for their duty.

Clubs will also be obliged to hold security meetings before matches. Fans or players will not be allowed to bring alcoholic drinks into stadiums, training grounds, grandstands and mass transit vehicles the fans or players take. Fines will be imposed upon those bringing alcoholic drinks as well as narcotics to these places.

The Firearms Law that carries prison terms will be in place for carrying guns, sharp objects or anything that can be used as a weapon in stadiums, training grounds and vehicles used for transporting fans. Prison sentences of up to five years will be in place for those carrying objects that may cause injury into the event venues or on buses, trains that transport fans. Use of objects defined as weapons also carries the same sentence.

Inside the stadiums, a new set of rules await players and coaches in the new season. The Central Refereeing Committee that assigns referees to Super Lig matches announced new rules last week. The most important change to the rules involves a yellow or red card for those on the bench. Be it a player, a team official or coach, they will be subject to cards if referees determine they violated the code of conduct, stadium rules in matches. If the referee cannot determine who violated the rules, the coach will be booked. The violations often stem from coaches objecting to referee decisions and avoiding match etiquette by walking onto the pitch and personally arguing with and insulting referees.

Players being substituted will be allowed to leave the pitch from the nearest point to the bench but in case there is a security issue (fan violence, for instance), they will be allowed to leave from the middle of the pitch.

Last but not least, a change addressing referee interference has been introduced. Goals as a result of the ball bouncing off of the referee are for the time being, valid, but in the new season, they will end in a “referee shot,” an extra shot for which the match will be paused.

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