One of the most important regulations in Turkish football history, the native and national financial fair play system, has been launched this week. In a joint statement made by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) and The Banks Association of Turkey (TBB), a new system designed to keep the financial status of Turkish clubs in check was announced.
Although individuals are still not held responsible for their actions as club executives, now there are severe consequences such as transfer bans, point deductions and even relegation for clubs that act out of line. Although this is still not enough in my opinion, the new regulation with strict consequences will be very beneficial for the well-being of the financial order in Turkish football. Now, Turkish clubs will no longer be able to throw money around like there is no tomorrow - it is time to pay the price.
Just look at these numbers: 10 years ago the total debt of Super League clubs was TL 825 million ($151.8 million); now this number is TL 9.5 billion ($1.75 billion). What is even more depressing is that if all 18 Super League teams sell all of their players today, they will only get back $650 million. This means that even if we sell every player in our league, we still won't be able to pay off the massive debt of the Turkish clubs.
The new debt-restructuring program offered by Turkish banks led by Ziraat Bank has not offered to pay this large bill, but rather it is forcing the clubs to pay it. It is like an International Monetary Fund (IMF) program, where banks will offer credit and low interest rates for the clubs in the long term, but they will get most of their revenues in return and strictly control their financial status via the TFF.
So, the game is over for the greedy executives with whom I have been fighting in this column for years. They can no longer make deals in which millions of liras and dollars are spent for almost nothing in return. Now, just like the other ordinary citizens and corporations of Turkey, they will control their budget, pay their debts and swallow the hard truth: No more reckless, childish games with the hard-earned money of the Turkish people.
The TFF and the TBB must make sure that this restructuring program is as transparent and orderly as possible, to avoid any type of fraud. The Turkish people are very sensitive on the debt-restructuring topic, and it is easy to understand the new regulations as "banks paying the debts of clubs." They have to make sure that this is never the case and inform the public in every possible event and platform. Although not many are aware of it, Turkish football has reached the most decisive moment in its history, and whatever happens amidst this chaos will define the next 10 to 20 years of football. We have to make sure that this game is played justly, transparently and peacefully. Otherwise, I do not think Turkish football could handle another period of financial chaos.