After 20 years, Aziz Yıldırım is no longer the chairman of Fenerbahçe. Ali Koç received nearly 80 percent of the votes in a historic election this weekend, as a record-high 21,000 members voted.
What seemed impossible has become the reality - Aziz Yıldırım, who seemed immune to any opposition, is gone with the wind. Now, to make sure that Ali Koç's arrival will also bring in a new era for Fenerbahçe, there must be structural changes in the club. There must also be principles to guide these changes.
The first and foremost for Fener will be financial stability. The club has a current debt of nearly TL 300 million ($64.78 million) and it is getting bigger every year. Although Turkish teams earn a good amount of money from broadcasting, winning prizes and low taxation on player wages, they still manage to ruin their economy with reckless investments on short-term goals, mainly in the form of transfers.
Ali Koç must make sure that under his command Fenerbahçe will reverse this situation and gradually decrease the debt. This requires a planned future for the club, meaning that they will not blindly chase trophies each year, but create funds with a purpose and prepare accordingly. I am well aware that Turkish fans are allergic to short-term failures, but the only way to create a healthy financial system for Fenerbahçe is to sacrifice the short-term goals to prepare the club for the long run.
However, financial stability and long-term investments require people who can handle this type of work, and the shrewd businessmen in Turkish football are definitely not the right kind of people for this job. The main reason why Turkish football is so short-sighted is that it is full of businessmen, who either profit from reckless investments or run clubs with no professionalism.
The priority should be getting rid of all the malicious or amateur executives so that the club can be administrated properly. The biggest danger here is the type of shrewd executives that can convince Koç that he needs their guidance to get the trophy. I know it is hard, but Koç should not walk that way, no matter what.
Thirdly, professionals must be independent; executives, coaches and players alike. They must feel that they are working in an atmosphere where they can freely voice their opinions. Under Aziz Yıldırım's iron fist this was one of the biggest problems. Yıldırım allegedly physically harassed players for their mistakes and published secret tapes to blackmail coaches.
Koç must create an atmosphere where no one feels the constant threat of losing their jobs. Without this atmosphere, Fenerbahçe cannot improve to become one of the best clubs in the world.
I am positive that Ali Koç will deliver most of the right changes in his term, but the principles that Fenerbahçe fans craved for so long are still worth mentioning. It must be Koç who transforms Fenerbahçe and Turkish football, not the other way around.
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