Financial rehabilitation for Turkish football clubs' debts in bid to ensure sustainability

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 09.01.2019 00:35
Updated 09.01.2019 11:19

Dubbed a "financial revolution," the debt restructuring project for Turkish football clubs has been shared with the public. The project, which is not a new debt package, aims to strengthen the managerial and financial structure of the clubs.

Turkish Football Federation (TFF) Chairman Yıldırım Demirören and Turkish Banking Association (TBB) Chairman Hüseyin Aydın revealed the details of the debt restructuring late Monday.

"Turkish clubs are no longer financially sustainable. Therefore, this plan has become compulsory for us to implement," Demirören said during a live broadcast.

The TFF head went on to say that the new system will not interfere in the administration of the clubs but help them effectively manage budgets without further debt collection, depicting the project as a milestone for the Turkish clubs.

Aydın stressed that the banks that provided loans for the football clubs are well aware of the challenging financial problems faced by the clubs. In accordance with the need to ensure the effective financial and administrative management of the Turkish football clubs, the TFF and TBB decided to devise a joint project.

Aydın stated that more than 15 financial institutions have so far provided loans to football clubs. "The Turkish clubs competing in the Super League will bring their balance sheets to us [Ziraat Bank], and we will coordinate the process with the other creditors. We will ensure a cash flow for the clubs in compliance with their revenues and in a manner to sustain their financial outlook," the TBB head said. State-lender Ziraat Bank is the largest creditor of Turkish football clubs.

According to the restructuring plan, the plan bans football clubs from reckless spending. Accordingly, the clubs subjected to financial rehabilitation will spend money in line with their balance of income and expenditures.

The receivables of the public sector and banks will be deducted from the broadcasting, sponsorship and Passolig - a compulsory card for fans who want to buy tickets and watch games at stadiums - revenues of debt-ridden clubs, while the remaining money will be given to the clubs for spending.

According to the new plan, in the first stage, football clubs in the Super League can submit their balance sheets to the TFF and the TBB until Jan. 31. Later, club debts will be restructured. Restructuring rules will be introduced according to the financial structure of each club, with repayment options such as five years, two years, two years nonrefundable and five years deferred, in an attempt to relieve the clubs.

In the second stage of the plan, the clubs that cannot cover their expenses with their income and that try to close the annual gap through borrowing will be under strict control. The federation will set rules for the control of expenditures by ensuring financial discipline. Sanctions will be imposed on the clubs that violate the rules. Fenerbahçe, a regular contender for the league title in previous years, sits in 17th place with just 16 points from the first half of the season. The club has debts of nearly TL 4 billion ($730 million).

Their bitter rivals and Turkish football's most decorated club, Galatasaray, are fifth and have been eliminated from the UEFA Champions League.

The club, which says that its debt stood at TL 2.97 billion at the end of September, spent 7.5 million euros in June to sign Brazilian center back Maicon Sisenando, who has made just nine starts in the league this season.

Beşiktaş, who went on a spending spree that its chairman dubbed the "Sacrifice" in recent years, are TL 2.49 billion in debt and lie seventh in the table.

Not all 18 football clubs competing in the Super League are debt-stricken. Başakşehir, Kasımpaşa and Göztepe are doing well financially, managing to make payments on time and currently running almost debt-free.

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