Yıldırım Demirören has always been one of the most controversial and most powerful figures in Turkish football. When he became chairman of Beşiktaş in 2004, the club was 14 points ahead of their closest rival and was marching to the championship. Then, somehow Beşiktaş's performance plummeted, and the team finished the season in the third spot. Under Demirören's rule from 2004-2012, Beşiktaş won only one championship, lagging behind Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, which have won the league several times. After his brilliant leadership in Beşiktaş, he was then appointed as chairman of the Turkish Football Federation.
In the Demirören era, the Turkish national team missed two World Cups in 2014 and 2018 and could not qualify for the last 16 in the 2016 European Championship. Despite the fact that the Turkish national team was managed by Fatih Terim for four years during this period, there was no gradual progress in terms of results or gameplay. When future generations take a look at this period of the Turkish national team, they will see humiliating defeats against Iceland, Romania, Albania, etc. The worst part is that these defeats were not the result of brave undertakings, such as giving inexperienced youth a chance, the Turkish national team merely tried to save the day every time and failed badly most of the time.
However, the greatest problem of Demirören's period in football was not the failure of the national team, but the financial administration of Turkish clubs. Although he introduced a national financial fair play system a month before his departure, Yıldırım Demirören turned a blind eye to the selfish and reckless financial policies of Turkish football executives. Ten years ago, the total debt of the Super League clubs was $532 million, roughly the time when Demirören took charge of Turkish football. As he leaves office, the total debt is now $1.73 billion. Turkish football is now experiencing its worst financial crisis in decades, and the Demirören administration did not issue any regulations to stop it before it happened.
Thus, after the Demirören era, what we have is a bankrupt league, a demoralized national team and frustrated fans. What we need to do now is to stop and think why Turkish football has arrived at this point. The answer is simple: There are not enough regulations to keep clubs in check, encourage long-term projects and assure fans that regardless of the chairman, order and progress will prevail in Turkish football. This requires even stricter regulations than the national financial fair play system - individuals must be held accountable for their actions as executives. Then, no one would be able to waste the precious funds of clubs selfishly and recklessly, as there will be consequences. As Turkish football opens a new page today, we should not miss this chance to revolutionize the game.
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