Football clubs stricken with piles of debt to undergo financial rehabilitation

Published 06.01.2019 21:13
Updated 07.01.2019 11:11

The project to streamline Turkish football in financial terms has been finalized. Launched under the leadership of the Treasury and Finance Ministry and prepared by the Banks Association of Turkey, Clubs Association and Turkish Football Federation (TFF), 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 clubs for spending.

The economy administration bans companies, which do not have foreign currency income, from borrowing in foreign currency. A similar model will be applied to football clubs as well. In this context, the plan is aimed at limiting foreign football player transfers. Sanctions will be imposed on clubs that do not comply with the financial rules to be determined by the TFF. The clubs that break the rules will face a default risk.

According to the new plan, in the first stage, football clubs in the Super League will submit their balance sheets to the TFF and the Banks Association 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 non-refundable and five years deferred, in an attempt to relieve 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.

According to the plan that the TFF is further researching, a period of "cut your cloth according to your means" will start for clubs. In this period, dubbed financial rehabilitation, clubs will not be able to spend more than their income. The broadcasting, sponsorship and Passolig revenues of clubs will first be used in clearing debts, while the remaining money will be used in the transfer of footballers. Clubs will be prohibited from exceeding a certain level in their budget and in the depreciation costs of transfers for footballers and coaches. Otherwise they will be fined.

Moreover, transfer expenditures will not exceed one-and-a-half times the club budget, clubs will not be able to spend more than 70 percent of their income, and the transfer of foreign players will be restricted. According to 2017 data, while the ratio of footballer wage to income was 55 percent in the U.K., Germany and Spain, this figure reached 80 percent in Turkey. It is argued that this is not sustainable.

Meanwhile, each club will be given a rating. Those who break the financial rules will be subject to a number of sanctions, from disciplinary penalties to point reductions and fines to disqualification from matches. Clubs that digress from the financial rehabilitation program will not be able to receive a license from the federation. In terms of dealing with banks, the club will face a default risk.

Currently, the clubs in the Super League owe TL 6 billion ($1.2 billion) to banks and TL 4 billion to the public sector, commercial enterprises and each other. Six clubs have the highest debt. Financial debts constitute TL 4.5 billion of the TL 7.5 billion debt of Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Trabzonspor.

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