Friday, July 06, 2007

Fenerbahce's Hands Tied by TFF, Demiroren

Fenerbahce's Hands Tied by TFF, Demiroren
By Nathan L. Redd

The European futbol offseason has been full of comings-and-goings, with Thierry Henry moving to Barcelona, Roberto Carlos to Fenerbahce, and David Beckham joining the "soccer" life in America. Teams are opening their checkbooks and maneuvering in hopes of European glory, seeking out the perfect eleven on the pitch.

Turkiye has been no stranger to headlines, with Lincoln coming to Galatasaray, Tello coming to Besiktas, Nick Carle going to Genclerbirligi, and the afore-mentioned Roberto Carlos to Fenerbahce. The biggest headlines in Turkish futbol may never be printed at all, however, thanks to the Turkish Futbol Federation. While top European squads are loading up on the best talent in the world, Turkiye is still living in the dark ages with their six-foreign-player rule. It's been speculated that the limit would be increased this summer, but two men stand in the way of that - TFF President Haluk Ulusoy and Besiktas Chairman Yildirim Demiroren. Both are strongly opposed to increasing the foreign player limit. "Coincidentally, ofcourse" Demiroren is the nephew of Ulusoy. On the Besiktas website earlier this week, Demiroren stated “As the chairman of the only club that invests in the future of Turkish football by supporting youth teams, I believe that increasing the number of foreign players in the league will strike the future of Turkish football and especially young players." Demiroren attempted to defend his position by arguing that Turkish players have a limited stage to compete on in Europe. The statement read “Besiktas has the power to sign any number of foreign players at any price, but I will not use this power because of the reasons I explained. Besiktas will continue its mission to support and invest in young Turkish players.”

Turkish futbol reached its peak by finishing third in the 2002 World Cup, then failed to qualify for last summer's competition. Turkish futbol lacks the facilities and resources of many other European nations, and certainly cultivation of the Turkish youth game is needed. However, keeping the lig's foreign player limit at six is not the answer. The only question it answers is why Turkish teams have not advanced further in European competion in the last five years.

In 2005, UEFA set a limit that every team must have at least four homegrown players on their 25-man squad for any team competing in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League. That limit was to be increased to six players this year, and eight players in 2008. Of the 32 teams competing in the UEFA Champions League the year prior to the ruling, five would not have qualified: Arsenal, Chelsea, Glasgow Celtic, Amsterdam Ajax, and Glasgow Rangers. Not so coincidentally, all are traditionally powerhouse clubs that depend on foreign talent.

I believe there should be a limit in Turkish futbol as to the number of foreign players a team is allowed. I don't, however, believe that limit should be a paltry six players. It has been reported that 14 of the 18 Super Lig teams in Turkiye also believe it should be raised. Not surprisingly, the teams who want it raised are the teams with money to spend. Fenerbahce, ofcourse, is the Bill Gates of Turkish futbol when it comes to transfers. An increase in the foreign player limit benefits them tremendously, but they would not be the only beneficiaries.

Galatasaray has had their financial troubles in previous years, and those struggles aren't going away anytime soon. Season ticket sales for the 2007-2008 season have reportedly been disappointing, but would a wave of foreign players help sell tickets? Would the increase in ticket sales, merchandising, concessions, etc. help Galatasaray's bottom line? Ask Fenerbahce what the Roberto Carlos transfer has done for their ticket sales and merchandising revenue.

Haluk Ulusoy has never had a reputation for decisions that benefit Fenerbahce, which is why I don't expect the foreign player limit to be increased. Certainly, the other 17 teams in the Super Lig would benefit tremendously as well, but those teams don't have the cash that Fenerbahce does to spend on foreign players. There are Super Lig teams that do turn a profit and are committed to taking the next step in European futbol, however. Ulusoy and Besiktas Chairman Yildirim Demiroren know this, which is why they are opposed to the rule. If Besiktas and Galatasaray suddenly found an extra $100 million lying around to spend on transfers, I have a feeling their opinions would be different.

Fenerbahce shocked the world by bringing in superstar Roberto Carlos, and indications are that Aziz Yildirim may have more groundbreaking transfers in the works....if the limit is increased. The Fener board have made the most of their wait, signing coveted Turkish players like Ali Bilgin and Ilhan Parlak. However, Aziz Yildirim knows that Roberto Carlos sells tickets and shirts, which is why Fenerbahce has been linked to Adriano, Ronaldo, and even Kaka in previous weeks. Fenerbahce is eager to actually improve their stock in Europe and field a solid UEFA Champions League side, while some at the TFF are setting up the other Super Lig teams for European mediocrity, at best.

Turkish fans want a European champion, and Fenerbahce is ready to take that next step. However, it appears that the TFF and Yildirim Demiroren are trying to be the stumbling block for Turkish teams on their way to that step.

8 Comments:

Blogger Erol said...

Ulusoy and Demiroren have no vision. They don't understand that these Turkish players they claim they want to play have to earn the right to play at a high level, not give it to them - right now, there are very little Turkish players who can even play in the Super Lig, let alone in Europe. Curse Ulusoy. Curse Demironen. Bunch of dim witted clowns.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Nathan L. Redd said...

I agree that there is no vision for Turkish futbol at the top. I do think that some of the smaller clubs have some good leadership and good plans in place, but I think the TFF is essentially holding everyone down. It doesn't just hurt Fener; it hurts all of the clubs. Instead of parity in the Super Lig by making everyone better, I think the TFF's goal is to create parity by watering down the Super Lig even more.

They need new leadership. They need new ideas. They need someone who understands Turkish futbol, with a university degree in business and a Master's degree in Sport Business and Sport Management. Maybe someone who has experience working in the progressive American sports industry but understands Turkish futbol and loves Turkiye with all their heart. If only someone like that was out there......:)

2:30 PM  
Blogger Tims@h said...

Apperantly the TFF board was due to meet in Trabzon today to decide on the foreign player limitation issue. But the Deputy General Secretary of the TFF, Nuzhet Kiper Bagis passed away yesterday due to a heart attack and the TFF Board postphoned the meeting to Saturday so that they could attend to Mr. Bagis' funeral service. The insider is the Board has a concensus for 6+2 limit which means 8 foreign players will be allowed but only 6 will be able to be listed in the 18 men match squad (since UEFA has no limitation all 8 can play at European competition). Apparenly Ulusoy, under pressure from the majority of the clubs, has been trying real hard to convince Demiroren for this 6+2 formula. Most probably the TFF Board will announce this 6+2 decision on Saturday following their meeting in Trabzon. As a final note, why would the Board meet in Trabzon? Is it because it's Ulusoy's hometown? This guy is unbelievable, he's from Trabzon, he's a 6S fan and he's Demiroren's uncle. How many more facts do you need to see the reason why he hates FB so much. The day he leaves the TFF will be the begining of a bright new era for Turkish football. ULUSOY ISTIFA!

5:15 PM  
Blogger Erol said...

The clubs have been trying real hard to convince Demiroren????? Who the hell does this fat ugly clown think he is??? What happened to majority wins???? Only in Turkey does cronyism and corruption thrive so openly.

Demiroren is so scared of Fener becoming so big and great, from now on, I will only refer to his organization as the Besiktas Bitches - because they're a bunch of whiney bitches. Grab some tissues boys, the bitches are crying.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Tims@h said...

The verdict is out. TFF announced the new limit for foreign players as 6+1. All 7 can be in the 18 men match squad but only 6 will be allowed on the pitch at any given time. I guess TFF gave a "BJK discount" because everybody was expecting a 6+2 limit.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Nathan L. Redd said...

Thanks for the info, U. I had been waiting to hear. I'll get the info. up on the website.

12:38 PM  
Blogger the Husband said...

nathan your examples of clubs thta rely oin foreign talent are somewhat misplaced. Celtic won the Champions League in 1967 with a team of players from within 25miles of the stadium. Chelsea are hardly a powerhouse and have only ecome successful since Abramovic arrived with his checkbook. Arsenal became French only with the arrival of Arsene Wenger, before that they were almost 100% British. Remember also that its that long since UEFA had a similar restriction whihc caused problems for Man Utd amongst others who could not play their strongest team and got knocked out by both GS and FB.

What I fail to understand though in your argumant is why Italy has similar restrictions but they seem to do okay and I think Spain does as well. So your arguments simply do not hold water. So what if FB have sold lots of shirts and tickets they have done almost every seaason and they are the least successful club in Europe of the big 4 despite all that money and high profile. Maybe you should be concerned about the fact that they struggle to adapt to playing in Europe more than the others, I mean losing to Newcastle and especially AZ showed the basic weakness and naivete of the team. Their inability to play for 90 minutes, lack of speed, lack of fitness, lack of strength, the favors from the refs that the big 4 get in Turkey vanishes, tactical immaturity all contribute and any team that relies on Kezman in Europe is screwed anyway, his diving and gamesmanship is embarassing, just ask Chelsea.

The above can apply to any of the Turkish teams except the Kezman comment. Other than as a marketong ploy you really do not need a team stuffed with foreigners to succeed in Europe. Better buying of the limited number allowed and good development of youth players should suffice, BUT what I see is that Turkish football is still seen as a non-demanding retirement home for players, think Frank De Boer and others and that some clubs and especially FB hardly seem to bother with developing youth players, if they do where are the products? Even Tuncay came from Sakaryaspor. Better club management would also hepl where the coach picks the players and develops the squads rather than the chairman buying the players and hiring the coach to turn a bunch of egos into a team, long term planning may also help, the revloving door policy at all Turkish Clubs hardly allows such development. Look at the EPL. Allardyce took a club like Bolton from the 1st Diviosn and has turned them into a medium force in the EPL. He was tere for 8 years and had total control over all aspects of the team including fitness, diet, training, the academy, transfers etc. and he did that whilst Bolton struggled with debt from a new stadium. He used a judicous mix of loans local and foreign, older players Djorkaeff, Hierro, problem plyers Diouf, Anelka, Davies youth team players, Nolan, Hunt, O'Brien and developed a tactical system to suit the opposition he was playing. This team assembled at significantly less cost than the big 4 has had more success in Europe in one season than any of them. I would suggest that it was the ability of the manager and the team behind him that was the reason for the success rather than the nationality of the players.

Stop deluding yoursleves that the foreigner rule is the root of all the problems in Turkish Football and also stop being so paranoid about the TFF. You clearly forgot issues like Anelkas hand of god and the other contentious decisions that all seemed to go in FB's favor a couple of seasons ago when it was so bad that even some of the rabid FB media types were getting embarrased, if you dont remember every time Alex fell over near the penalty area and FB were losing or drawing with 3 minutes to go it was a penalty. Couple of seasons before that it was GS getting all those calls. Every season the TFF proves its incompetence and every season you hear the same whines and complaints that TFF is biased against X, Y or Z.

This season it seems like GS have so far actually made better use of the transfer market where FB were so happy to have signed Carlos that they forgot about their need for a goalkeeper. And why were they so arrogant that they ended up with 8 foreigners plus other Brazilian Turks before they knew what the rules were going to be. Stupid!

8:00 AM  
Blogger the Husband said...

Forgot one thing.

If UEAF are introducing such a limit where is the benefit in inclreasing the number of foreign players in the Turksih League. Surely all that means is that when Turkish Teams play in Europe they will have to field a weaker team as some of the foreigners that normally play will sit on the sidelines.

And Turkish Fans had a European Champion, Galatasaray in 2000 so that next step has already been taken. I cant see many GS or BJK fans celebrating FB winning anything.

Why would GS fans buy season tickets for only 13 home games?

And to include Ajax in your list of clubs that has historically relied on foreign talent simply shows a staggering disregard for their history and the machine organistaion tat is Ajax. I guess you never heard of van Basten, Gullitt, Rijkaard, Cruyff, Koeman, Overmars, Bergkamp, van der Saar, de Boer, Blind, etc.

One thing you also seem of forget, and I can undertsnd that as you live in the US, is that UEFA have to find a way to negotiate the EU employment rules and laws regarding free movement of EU citizens and right of employment. UEAF's recent ruling had to be endorsed by the EU to make sure it dod not constitute restraint of trade. If the EU did not invlove itself then I am 100% sure that there would be much tougher restrictions in place. Just read some of Sepp Blatters comments on these issues.

8:24 AM  

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