Once the leader of the Super League for four weeks, Kasımpaşa now finds itself in the eighth spot after losing five games in a row. The team that humiliated Beşiktaş by scoring four on them just before the winter break is now 13 points behind the Black Eagles. From being just six points behind leader Başakşehir, Kasımpaşa is now struggling to stay out of the relegation zone. What exactly went wrong for Kasımpaşa that playing against it now means three sure points for the opponents? I argue that the answer lies in the way the club is run.
In order to understand what is going on in Kasımpaşa, we need to hear out the words of a former Kasımpaşa coach, Rıza Çalımbay. After Çalımbay was sacked by Konyaspor this season for apparently no reason, he appeared on almost all TV channels in the country to explain why he did not deserve to be sacked. In one of those appearances, he gave an example from his Kasımpaşa days to explain the mentality of Turkish football executives.
"When I came to Kasımpaşa, the team was struggling to keep out of the relegation zone. The chairman asked me to keep the team in the league and he promised me big transfers next season. When the season ended, we finished the fifth spot, way above our expectations. Then, when I asked for the transfers, the chairman told me that he no longer wanted to invest in the team, he had other plans. This is how Turkish clubs are being administrated," he said.
Proving Çalımbay's words right, Kasımpaşa sold two of their best strikers, Mbaye Diagne and Samuel Emem Eduok, who scored more than half its goals, after finishing just six points behind leaders Başakşehir. It could easily play in the Champions League if it had kept these two players and cover most of its expenses.
Moreover, Kasımpaşa sold Eduok, one of the best strikers in the league, for only 400,000 euros to Erzurumspor, which is now 17th. The players it bought instead are nowhere near Diagne and Eduok. In addition, Kasımpaşa had succeeded by scoring more than it conceded in the first half of the season but now with the scoring players gone, they are only conceding.
It is obvious that coach Mustafa Denizli would never approve such transfer policy if it was not dictated on him. In perhaps the worst striker scarcity of the history of Turkish football, he lost Diagne, who alone scored more goals than seven other teams in Super League. The more curious part of this story is that Kasımpaşa always does this, it bought Eren Derdiyok, Ryan Babel and Ryan Donk from the depths of their career and sold them to bigger clubs.
Financially, Kasımpaşa seems to be doing well, but it is not clear whether it wants to be a football club or Goldman Sachs of Turkish football. It does not invest the money it earns in creating a better team, but only does so to make even more money, and this is certainly against the soul of this game. If it is going to sell all of its star players whenever it performs well, who is going to take Kasımpaşa seriously the next time it rises again?
We need to make sure that football clubs are primarily run as football clubs and the priority is always football. Otherwise, the competitiveness and the seriousness of the Super League would face some serious questions.